Creative Ways to Promote Zero Waste in Pandemic-Hit Communities

Contributed by Anilawati Nurwakhidin, YPBB – Indonesia

The COVID-19 pandemic has restricted movements in Bandung City and many other places in Indonesia, as local governments impose community lockdowns to control the spread of the virus. The lockdowns have affected the conduct of the Zero Waste Cities program, which relies heavily on face-to-face interaction with community leaders and households. YPBB has made adjustments to ensure that the program, particularly education and collection activities, keeps running smoothly, while keeping staff, waste collectors and households safe from possible infection.

When doing their rounds in RWs (village subdivisions), field officers make sure they’re wearing personal protective equipment (PPEs), maintaining physical distance, and observing proper hygiene. They also monitor RWs in Coblong and other Bandung districts regarding possible spikes in COVID-19. When an area is under a “red zone” status, or someone in the community has tested positive for COVID-19, field activities are automatically postponed. The Zero Waste Cities staff then move to low-risk RWs until the red zone status in those RWs has been lifted.

Screening of DTDe and DTDC video at the ZWC (Kang Pisman) cadre meeting in Cihaurgeulis Village in this morning (23 Nov).

Field officers maximize the use of phone calls and Whatsapp groups to reduce the need for in-person meetings. They also use their social media accounts to post updates, based on a landing page prepared by the Zero Waste Cities project team. Internal training and briefing activities, meanwhile, are conducted online using Google Meet.

In community meetings, YPBB ensures that these are held in well-ventilated spaces and physical distancing among participants. In some cases, kelurahan-level meetings are held in batches to limit the number of people in a room.

Video for Door-to-Door Education

In addition to Whatsapp groups and online calls, YPBB has developed an instructional video in October this year on door-to-door education (DTDE) and door-to-door waste collection (DTDC), serving as an alternative medium for educating residents, as well as minimizing physical contact. The video shows the various activities done during DTDE and DTDC, especially during a pandemic.

This video has been shared with community groups (kelurahan to RT level), and with several cadres and RW leaders. Residents responded to the video with positive emoticons and thumbs-up stickers. The video also featured actual waste collectors and field officers to familiarize residents with these Zero Waste partners.

The video, which was also distributed in larger Whatsapp groups, helped generate discussions about providing better social benefits and financial incentives for waste collectors.

Outside Whatsapp groups, YPBB plans to screen the video during RW-level socialization meetings, DTDE briefings with RW cardres, and garbage collection trainings. While it is too early to tell if the video has been effective, YPBB is hopeful that it can help improve Zero Waste practices not only in RWs in Bandung, but also in other cities and communities in Indonesia.


GAIA is grateful for the contributions from YPBB and Bandung City. This feature is made possible through the Zero Waste Cities project — an initiative coordinated by GAIA Asia Pacific and funded by the Plastic Solutions Fund (PSF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The views expressed in this feature do not necessarily reflect that of its funders.