Going Zero Waste in Denpasar

Contributed by Ni Putu Bella Yuliana Dewi and Catur Yudha Hariani, PPLH Bali (Denpasar, Indonesia)

We live in a time where people are encouraged to buy and consume goods wrapped in disposable single-use plastics in the name of convenience. In this “convenient” life, without us realizing it, we have caused damage to our immediate environment and the whole planet. The culture of convenience makes it difficult to solve the waste problem especially in urban areas where people consume more than average Indonesians and where there is limited area for residual waste.

The problem is worsening. Some people who are aware of this try to reduce their plastic waste. Plastic bags take decades to decompose and often fragment into microplastic. Worse, they pose harm to our ecosystems and human health when disposed of into the environment. This condition is one of the triggers for Indonesia to call for a waste emergency. However, not everyone is  aware of how serious the situation has become. Indonesia ranks second to China as the world’s biggest plastic waste producer, an award that Indonesians are not proud of.

The waste management infrastructure and systems remain lacking in Indonesia. We need a solution in order to save the surrounding environment and our earth from the damage that we have done. Now is the time for all of us to take Zero Waste action to save the environment and our earth for the next generations.

If the society or the younger generations do not act, there will be chain losses. The Bali government has issued Governor Regulation No. 47 of 2019 concerning Source-Based Waste Management. We, PPLH Bali, started the first Zero Waste Cities in Kesiman Kertalangu Village in Banjar Tohpati. This Zero Waste Cities activity received support from the Denpasar City DLHK government, Kesiman Kertalangu Village Workshop, and Kelian Dusun Banjar Tohpati. In addition, we also get support from friends GAIA (Global Alliance For Incinerator Alternatives), AZWI (Zero Waste Indonesia Alliance), and YPBB Bandung.

The first  Zero Waste Cities project in Denpasar started in October 2019. The goal is to reduce municipal waste brought to the landfill (TPA). The stages of implementing Zero Waste Cities in an area or village consists of conducting baseline data collection (including waste management practices and waste generated by households), translating this data into a localized waste management program, training relevant stakeholders on the village waste management program, disseminating information about this program to households, and continuous monitoring of this program. These steps are broken down as follows:

  1. Profiling
  2. APP Survey (Awareness Perception and Practices)
  3. Survey WACS (Waste Analysis and Characterization Studies)
  4. Survey WABA (Waste Analysis and Brand Audit)
  5. System design
  6. System Consultation and Training
  7. Preparation of composting facilities and collection facilities
  8. Training for Officers
  9. Door to door education
  10. Testing and implementation of door to door collection
  11. Monitoring and Evaluation

The pilot project of Zero Waste Cities in Banjar Tohpati, Kesiman Kertalangu Village has been running for a year. During the activity process, there was a clear division of roles. DLHK Denpasar City carries out transportation of waste from the households and oversees the waste management at TPST 3R. The community sorts their waste into 5 categories: soft organic waste, hard organic waste, sanitary napkin tissue, valuable inorganic (recyclables), and residual waste (other waste). The community processes as much organic waste as possible into compost and then becomes a waste bank customer to sell recyclable materials. The role of PPLH Bali is to coordinate all activities, provide door-to-door education, prepare the work equipment, find volunteers, and oversee flow of the project implementation. 

Meanwhile, the role of the village government is to organize the community, prepare assistance for facilities, provide honorarium for garbage officers, and supervise the project.

During the project implementation, we encountered a few resistance from the residents: from residents refusing to sort their waste to residents closing the gates of their houses because they do not see the importance of waste sorting and instead see it as an additional burden to the family. Several times we heard complaints such as, “I am busy so I don’t have time to sort waste at home”. Even so, the PPLH Bali Team and volunteers continued to educate the community.

Running the Zero Waste Cities program in the village is challenging. Our team at PPLH put a lot of effort in educating residents, but many still refuse to sort their waste. Official and customary village governments do not have regulations that require households to sort their waste. Nonetheless, PPLH Bali, with the help from YPBB Bandung, is coordinating with the local government to develop a technical plan mandating residents to practice waste segregation and composting.

In the following months from March 2020 to October 2020, Zero Waste Cities activities were hampered and the door-to-door education stopped halfway due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This however did not dampen the enthusiasm of the PPLH Bali Team to continue monitoring with waste transport officers via Whatsapp or sometimes we ourselves went to the field and visited TPST 3R Kesiman Kertalangu. Despite the COVID 19 pandemic, garbage collection officers continue to carry out their duties to transport garbage from residents of the Tohpati banjar every day.

The speed of response to a pandemic situation is very important. Therefore, the PPLH Bali Team is grateful  to get the support from GAIA and the Green Lengis Foundation (a local NGO) who helped collect donations to help waste workers with PPE such as gloves, boat shoes, masks, hand sanitizers, vitamins, and food ingredients. There are 71 garbage officers who received the package. They are not only in Denpasar (the location of the Zero Waste City pilot project) but also in Gianyar district in 6 villages.

We hope that waste workers never underestimate any health protocols that we have provided and will use them in the field. We take extra precaution in household garbage collection by  urging the public to separate disposable mask waste, and if possible, to use a disinfectant spray to keep the masks virus-free.

We hope that the COVID19 pandemic will end soon so that the Zero Waste Cities pilot project can run again optimally.


GAIA is grateful for the contributions from PPLH Bali. 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). The views expressed in this feature do not necessarily reflect that of its funders.