Mandated by the Law: Sustainable Waste Management and Public Health Protection

“Mandated by the Law:

Sustainable Waste Management and Public Health Protection”

Zero Waste Hero Tour 2020

9 - 18 January 2020

Jakarta, 9 January 2020 - Prof. (emeritus) Paul Connett, an activist, zero waste, toxicologist, and an environmental chemist, revisits several cities in Indonesia which are Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, and Bali on 9th-17th January 2020. On this international tour, he will echo and campaign the importance of zero waste concept, refusing false solutions in Indonesia’s waste management problems: incineration.

This year is Paul Connett third visit to Indonesia after the previous zero waste hero tour in 2016 and 2019. The destination of the tour are cities that are currently listed in the Presidential Decree No. 35 in 2018 concerning the Acceleration of Environmentally Friendly Waste-to-Energy Facility Development.

“Incinerator and other thermal technology labelled as waste-to-energy have not yet been proven successful, especially on a larger scale. In Europe, incineration is still a problem, considering its emission to the air, wastewater release, and residual ash,” said Prof. Connett.

Furthermore he explained, “In other parts of the world, incineration has been opted out due to high investment and operational cost, as well as toxic emission from the combustion process. Zero waste approach is not only an imaginary solution, on the contrary, the concept is happening and emerging all over the world, including Indonesia.”

The Alliance of Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) strongly refuses incineration technology, labelled as waste-to-energy, that have been promoted as waste management solutions in Indonesia (see also AZWI’s press release on 31 May 2018).

Nur Hidayati, Executive Director of WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia, said, “Jakarta Governor has to be consistent on his commitment to cleaning Jakarta’s air pollution problems. There are excessive amounts of air pollution sources already, varying from the transportation sector to industrial releases. Do not add new air pollution sources from this waste-to-energy facility in four locations in Jakarta.”

Waste combustion releases hazardous and toxic materials, thus worsening Jakarta’s air quality. “As climate change impacted area, a waste-to-energy facility in Jakarta and other 11 cities contradicts the target of a low carbon economy for 1.5oC of the Paris Climate Agreement,” she added.

Beside air pollution problem and its contribution to climate change, this policy contradicts the mandate of the Indonesian Waste Management Act No. 18 year 2008, especially conservation, sustainability, and precautionary principle. The priority of waste handling using thermal technology must be scrutinized as they are contradictory with the existing regulation that mandated governments to reduce 30% of waste generation by 2025 (Presidential Decree No. 97 in 2017).

Yuyun Ismawati Drwiega, Senior Advisor of Nexus3 Foundation added, “Destroying piles of waste with thermal technology will only displace them into air, creating new severe problems in the future. Before, during and after the combustion stage, not only dioxins and furans will be released, but also fly and bottom ash will be generated. In other countries, such ash is categorized as toxic waste and must be treated as hazardous waste in a special landfill.”

Currently there is no policy that regulates toxic fly and bottom ash, as well as wastewater from the thermal treatment plants. Furthermore, dioxins emissions from thermal waste-to-energy facilities that are currently regulated by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Decree No. P.15/2019 only loosely obliges operators to monitor these toxic pollutants every five years.

Paul Connett commented, “Incineration is an obsolete technology that has to be abandoned. In Europe, incineration has been opted out due to sustainability issues. Many of European’s incinerators are also closing down due to lack of waste input along with waste generation reduction measures.”

“Insufficient waste input to these monsters will deteriorate these waste-to-energy plants and eventually fails. It is a fraud to label incineration as a waste-to-energy plant; instead, it should be a waste-of-energy or waste-of-money facility,” added the author of The Zero Waste Solutions.

Fajri Fadhillah, Head of Pollution Control Division Indonesian Center for Environmental Law said, “The Indonesian Government has to stop fooling the public by pushing incineration in these cities. The Indonesian Supreme Court has agreed with the experts through their verdicts No. 17 P/HUM/2016 that incinerators will create significant health impact to the public. By prioritizing thermal treatment or waste-to-energy plants in 12 cities, it shows that the Indonesian government has not implemented the verdict released in 2016 and at the same time violating the sustainable and precautionary principles in waste management.”

The Indonesian government has been pushing the use of thermal technology as a waste management solution, despite data showing waste characteristics in several cities in Indonesia are dominated by organic waste with high water content and not feasible for thermal process. There has been substantial amount of money, energy, and time invested to implement this thermal technology through various brands and programs.

Developed countries have set strong standards and policies to develop and operate incineration and thermal technology to process wastes. Thermal technology providers are now using Indonesia and other developing countries, which lack of environmental policies and standards in regulating such technology.

Leonard Simanjuntak, Country Director of Greenpeace Indonesia added, “Waste-to-energy development in 12 cities/regencies are a public-funded projects from the taxpayers. Technical feasibility as well as economic and environmental assessment must be transparent to the public. When coal will be used as fuel additive, air quality in these twelve cities will be worsened due to the emissions from waste-to-energy facilities. Toxic energy sources shall not be classified as renewable energy sources.”

David Sutasurya, Executive Director of the Bioscience and Biotechnology Development Foundation said, “Waste-to-energy development projects are fiscal traps, as they absorb a huge amount of local and national budget through high investment. Despite the Waste Management Act mandated the waste reduction, allocation for waste management budgets are very limited. Instead of optimizing the allocation for sustainable long-term solutions such as zero waste approach, the budget spent for unsustainable technology that potentially creates threats for public health.”

Therefore, we demand Indonesian Government to:

  1. Publish and reveal the feasibility studies and the Environmental Impact Assessment document (EIA) on plans to develop incinerators in 12 cities;

  2. Publish the results of public health risk analysis, especially from dioxin emissions to the public that resides around the waste-to-energy facility;

  3. Immediately operate a laboratory that can analyze dioxins to reduce the cost to analyze dioxins and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and allow periodic monitoring of POPs;

  4. Amend the regulation on the frequency of dioxins monitoring of the waste-to-energy from every five years to at least twice a year in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Decree No. P/15/2019.

  5. Classify fly and bottom ash generated from waste-to-energy facilities as hazardous waste according to the existing regulations and must not be disposed of in city landfills.

Contact person:

Abdul Ghofar, Friends of The Earth Indonesia (Phone 085645520982)

Nindhita, Nexus3 Foundation (, 081808322339)

This press release document could be downloaded here (Bahasa Indonesia and English)

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