At first, when you listen to the youth group convincing a team of high school students in Bekasi about how every human has potentially killed other human in their life, it is a tad scary. However, if you listen further to their explanation about how human beings, especially the waste they created throughout their life span – and the fact that it has not been managed wisely can bring people closer to death; it all starts to make great sense.
The Leuwi Gajah erosion in 2005 is just a precise example of how excessive waste and its incorrect handling actually killed people. Heavy rain that was pouring all night, compounded by the methane concentration from the waste resulted in the garbage avalanche. Two villages, situated one kilometer from the site were instantly covered by the 200 x 60 cubic meters of waste located in the area due to an open dumping system. More than 150 people were killed during this incident.
We have never taken a minute to understand how our waste is being managed; where it ends up, if it is being recycled, or if it is harming the environment or people in the process. These young individuals, on the contrary, are not just interested but are committed to help people be more responsible with the waste they produce. Their passion led them to establish a social enterprise called Waste4Change.
Attempting to provide end-to-end solutions on waste management, Waste4Change introduces 4 major approaches: Consult Campaign, Collect and Create. They start with waste management research to measure the amount and the type of waste an organization produces in a day. They use these findings to provide professional solutions to organizations in need of waste consultations – their major source of revenue. Comprehensive reports and accurate measurements are provided to organizations. They also combine this consultancy with existing research findings to educate a wide range of communities through their Campaign programme. This is where DBS stepped in to support Waste4Change on the 3R School Adoption programme. Initiated in 2015, this programme helps create and build awareness within Bekasi high school students, a part of the initial 5 pilot schools being covered.
Through education, students are first taught to reduce their consumption of potential items that end up in the garbage can, to being responsible with their own waste by segregating the trash with correct disposal. People are also educated about the ways of better waste disposal and management and the benefits it brings to the wider community.
The interesting aspect of Waste4Change is the logical continuity to the campaign. They are now in the process of leveraging technology and building infrastructure to ensure the sorted waste is processed further to benefit the environment. Composting machines, mobilization trucks, and a material recovery facility will eventually help them turn the waste into value: Compost for fertilizing land and recycled paper/plastic/glass that can feed certain craft production – the other source of their revenue.
“Campaigning to educate the society about environment is always good, but it only addresses ¼ of the problem. That is the reason we build Waste4Change not only as a campaigner, but as a social enterprise which adopts 3 main environmental, social and economic principles. That way, we would be able to address the whole cycle of waste management in a sustainable manner,” explained Bijaksana Junerosano, Chief Executive Officer of Waste4Change.
In Indonesia, over time, scavengers work in very poor conditions and are exposed to dangerous materials when sorting out garbage, thus making them vulnerable to infections and accidents. Waste4Change employs them as waste collectors wherein they now receive a monthly salary and work in a better environment as they collect sorted waste from houses, factories, or offices in a safe manner.
Waste4Change branched out from Greeneration, a social enterprise working on environment issues since 2009. In November 2014, they teamed up with Eco-Bali and became an independent legal entity. From 4 activists, they now have 18 full time employees to work on the integrated solutions they offer to tackle this waste management issue in a systematic manner.
At present, Waste4Change is striving to get all work streams on a steady pace and roll out planned projects. Certainly, they hope to be able to educate a larger audience, consult more organizations, collect and process more sorted waste. Sustainability first, profits will sure follow.