Rethinking Recycling Academy and Plastic Smart Cities Tackle Waste in Bali

Rethinking Recycling Academy is a capacity-building program launched by, in partnership with the Plastic Smart Cities Initiative, to transform the waste management ecosystem in Ubung Kaja village, Bali, Indonesia. Plastic Smart Cities (PSC) is a WWF initiative that works with cities around the world to keep plastic away from nature.

Ubung Kaja is a village with a population of 20,000 people, located in Denpasar, the capital of the province of Bali. “Compared to when I was a kid, a lot has changed. When I entered elementary school, there was no pollution. We don’t even wear shoes to walk around the village.” said I Wayan Astika, Head of Ubung Kaja Village. “After 30 years, everything changed. It’s amazing and sad to see the changes that are happening.”

Uneasy about the condition of her village, Astika was ready to support the Rethinking Recycling Academy when she was approached with an opportunity to join the first cohort. “I saw [the issue in my village] that the Academy was trying to solve. By joining the Academy [I want to see], how we can make the environment safer and cleaner. How do we teach our children and grandchildren not to be exposed to garbage and pollution.”

In partnership with PSC, Rethinking Recycling Academy aims to empower Ubung Kaja in building an inclusive and economical recycling ecosystem. Ella Flaye, Regional Director for Asia explains the core principles of Rethinking Recycling Academy, “Rethinking Recycling Academy aims to provide end-to-end solutions that support community success. Our program works directly with communities to provide training and capacity-building programs to transform waste and recycling systems in their own homes. Where there are challenges, there we build solutions!”

When Ubung Kaja village joined the Academy, its waste management facility (MRF), otherwise known as TPS3R, was barely functional, only able to cover 80 of the 20,000 people living in the village. Since September 2020, Rethinking Recycling Academy has been working with village leaders, community leaders, operational managers, and waste workers to transform operations at their TPS3R, including educating the community and improving working conditions.

“The waste produced by the community does not need to be thrown away. The resulting waste can be turned into assets,” said Astika. “Not all waste is dirty, some waste can be turned into commodities, and at the same time, this becomes income for the organizers, villages, and the environment.” Since the beginning of the transformation, Ubung Kaja has taken the first step towards economic sustainability by reorganizing organic material recycling operations to start processing and selling compost, turning this organic material that was previously waste into productive use.

“The PSC initiative aims to reduce plastic waste entering the environment by addressing major leakage points at the city and surrounding towns level,” said Aditya Bayunanda, Head of Footprint and Market Transformation, WWF Indonesia Foundation. “By supporting the sustainable 3R TPS model in Ubung Kaja Village, the community will directly contribute to the reduction of marine plastic waste from this area. It also serves as a model that can serve as a blueprint that will guide city-wide action to improve waste management policies and infrastructure.”

The Rethinking Recycling Academy and PSC started a partnership by supporting this iconic tourism destination that is threatened by plastic pollution. We are excited to join hands as partners to continue Ubung Kaja’s transformation and drive meaningful environmental and social impacts.

This post was originally posted by WWF-Indonesia. Please follow this link to see content in bahasa Indonesia, the official language of Indonesia.

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