Toward Bali`s Zero Waste

Every single person in the world produces waste and as such is part of a non-sustainable society. A lot of waste doesn’t even make it to the landfill. Instead, it clutters the sides of roads and water courses and ends up in the ocean. Beyond the over consumption problem, landfills aren’t a suitable solution either. They are responsible for toxins (as mercury, arsenic, cadmium, PVC, solvents, acids. etc.), leachate (the liquid formed when water filters through the waste decomposed) and greenhouse gases (as methane emissions that have strong effects for global warming).

Today, there are reports of a “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”,  a collection of marine debris which is too large for scientists to trawl and with a vortex`s area nearly impossible to measure. About 80% of the debris in this Garbage Patch located in the North Pacific Ocean comes from land-based activities in North America and Asia.

Indonesia's Waste

Indonesia produces more than 1 million tons of waste everyday and around 64 million tons per year. Approximately 50% of this waste reaches landfill sites, the rest is either burned or illegally dumped and flows into the ocean. A high percentage of Indonesia’s population is not aware of the damage done to the environment everyday and the resulting consequences. Due to a lack of education on these matters, sustainable behavior is not yet in the mindset of the local people.

In Bali, each day one person contributes 2.8 kg of potentially harmful solid waste in average. Every 24 hours, 15,000 cubic meters of trash is disposed of along Bali’s roadsides and at illegal dump sites. These are the Bali facts:

  1. Up to 75% of garbage is not collected by official services. Then it seep into and pollute local waterways, farms and coastal areas.
  2. Rivers and mangrove swamps have become makeshift rubbish dumps due to poor government regulation and illegal dumping.
  3. Human sewage and contaminated cooking oil from “warungs” flow directly into the ocean, where Bali’s millions of tourists frolic.

The Solution? Zero Waste!

As response to this situation, several people, companies and even governments all over the world, in both large urban communities and small rural communities, are now committed to become “Zero Waste”. A zero waste world is one where resources are valued and nothing is wasted. The goal of zero waste is to minimize and ultimately eliminate waste. Its mission is working towards a world without waste through public education and practical application of Zero Waste principles. Zero waste aim to send nothing to a landfill. Zero Waste: minimizes waste, reduces consumption, maximizes recycling and ensures that products are made to be reused, repaired, recycled or composted. In other words: reduce what we need, reuse as much as we can, send little to be recycled, and compost what we cannot .

The Zero Waste International Alliance definition of zero waste is:

Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.

“Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.

“Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health. If a product can’t be reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned, or removed from production”.

Circular Economy

We currently live in a linear economy where resources are extracted from the earth, used and then dumped into a giant hole in the ground (landfill) or being burned. The goal of zero waste is to move to a circular economy where resources are used again and again, so that trash is out of existence. The circular economy mimics nature in that there is no trash in nature. Instead of discarding resources, we create a system where all resources can be resumed fully back into the system.

Social Responsibility

Zero Waste programs are the fastest and most cost effective ways that local governments can contribute to reducing climate change, protect health, create green jobs, and promote local sustainability. There are three overarching goals needed for sustainable resource management:

  1. Producer responsibility at the front end of the problem: industrial production and design.
  2. Community responsibility at the back end of the problem: consumption, discard use and disposal.
  3. Political responsibility to bring both community and industrial responsibility together in a harmonious whole.

Zero Waste is a critical stepping-stone to other necessary steps in the efforts to protect health, improve equity and reach sustainability. With good political leadership, everyone could be engaged in the necessary shift towards a sustainable society.  Good political leadership in this matter involves treating citizens as key allies to protect human health and the environment and in making the transition to a sustainable future. This needs a significant investment in public outreach and education.

“Zero Waste” Initiatives in Bali

In Bali, there are also Zero Waste initiatives committed to the preservation of Bali’s nature. For instance, R.O.L.E. Foundation developed the ‘Zero Waste to Oceans’ program. In this program they promote a ‘Complete Circle’ approach to management, in which every last piece of trash is recycled and absolutely nothing goes to waste. In order to help put this approach into practice, they are currently constructing a 1300 sqm “Zero Waste to Oceans” Education Centre. This centre will facilitate machinery and systems that recycle or use around 98% of all waste. Organic, non-recyclables, and recyclables will be separated and converted into materials beneficial for everyday life. This site will also promote sustainable business such as producing of natural dyes, organic cotton weaving and soap recycling. They have also run a “Zero Waste to Ocean” Awareness Campaign and a “Zero waste to Oceans” Conference in partnership with the Danish Embassy.

Alila hotels in Bali are committed to sustainable tourism as well. They have adopted the ‘Alila Zero Waste to Landfill’ project and have implemented a Zero Waste policy across their portfolio. As part of this initiative, a complete waste composting system for all organic waste is being implemented, as well as a permaculture organic garden to provide a sustainable, self-sufficient supply of fresh raw food to the hotel kitchen. The hotel chain is investing in an Integrated Sustainable Resource Recovery Facility (iSuRRF) and laboratory, where all waste will be transformed into higher value products and services for reuse in the hotel. Eventually, the trash will be diverted through a series of technical, biological and engineering systems. This technology will convert plastic waste like wraps and films into a light green crude oil that will be distilled down to diesel, kerosene and gasoline for reuse in the hotels.

Alila’s objective is to perform a successful model that can be duplicated. Each hotel has its own PIONEER team (Positive Impact on Nature, Environment and Earth’s Resources), which is responsible for upholding the zero-to-landfill status and ensures Alila is in no-way contributing to the problem. They have a detailed agenda of the duties that are to accomplish and are tracing their achievements. They have already contracted a Permaculture Manager responsible for the initiative, established at least 3 gardens and installed some iSuRRF Containers.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”

Zero Waste operates at the international, national and local level and involves all sectors of society. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle“. There’s a reason the term “recycle” is always mentioned last. First, we need to focus our efforts on reducing and reusing. We should reuse something that already exists, and instead of using disposables we need to focus on reusables. Although we live in a society of instant gratification, going zero waste takes time and patience. We really don’t need everything we think we actually “need.” By reducing what we need, we are reducing what we will eventually throw out.

We can change the World!

Anyone can take part of the Zero Waste Movement – individuals, NGOs, government agencies, institutions. At the moment, there are several bloggers and youtubers all over the world promoting a “Zero Waste” lifestyle. They even promoted a creative 30 days challenge or Top 10 steps to become a “Zero Waster”. There are cities (Kamikatsu – Japan, Buenos Aires – Argentina, San Francisco and New York – USA, Capannori – Italy, South Tangerang – Indonesia) and even countries (as Sweden) that make a lot of efforts towards “Zero Waste”. The simple technology and methods required to achieve Zero Waste exists in every community around the world. With just one step in the right direction, we can change the world.