Just how much rubbish can one island make?

Gili Eco Trust had the opportunity of hosting a group of engineer school students from France that came to conduct a 6 week analysis on how much waste Gili Trawangan, a tiny island only 7km in diameter is creating each day.

Why do we throw our hands into the waste?
These dedicated dump divers created a methodology to analyze the contents of several horse carts of trash to update statistics and to work out how much of this waste we could potentially reduce, reuse or recycle.

When an FMPL horse cart arrived at the dump, the contents were taken apart, weighed and separated into the same 5 bin strategy we operate on the island. This was then used alongside data collected on how many trips and carts visited the dump each day to get an overall total.

Photo Credit: Manuel Gussman @manuelgussman

Who is the FMPL?
Right now, the Gili Eco Trust have teamed up with FMPL (Front Masyarakat Peduli Lingkungan) the waste collection company to ensure all waste is collected responsibly to minimize the amount of trash ending up in landfill. Now operating with more than 550 businesses on Gili Trawangan, the FMPL has seen a huge reduction in businesses separating their own rubbish into colour coordinated bins for the last year; we’ve had to increase number of staff at the dump to continue to sort and separate rubbish that isn’t done at source.

Why does the rubbish need to be separated?
If waste is separated at source (resort/diveshop/restaurant) it can be easily transported directly to the precise location ready for processing. Right now, with most of the waste being mixed or not separated correctly, we must employ more staff to collect any valuable material that would otherwise be discarded and wasted at the dump. Once collected from the dump, these materials have a higher chance of contamination with other materials, usually organic.

Photo Credit: Manuel Gussman @manuelgussman

So what’s the score?
The team found some interesting and shocking results! A staggering 49% of the waste analyzed inside the horse carts was organic waste. If this was separated and processed into proper composting, the amount of waste entering the dump would be slashed in HALF! When organic materials (food scraps, fruit rinds, garden waste, leaves & sticks) decompose in this oxygen restricted environment, it breaks down and produces toxic methane gas which is increasingly threatening our warming climate; and also extremely flammable and helps to fuel the fires that are ignited illegally. It contaminates all other materials that could have potentially been removed and recycled and encourages roaming cows to enter the dump and mistakenly consume plenty of plastics.

Along with this it was concluded that we create an average of 8,8tonnes (8,800kg) of waste a day. Out of that, only 230kg of that is recycled, including approximately 34kg daily that is properly sorted and transported directly to bank sampah.

72% of non-organic materials has potential to be recycled but in practice, only 28% is. This was predominantly down to recyclable materials being mixed with organic matter and therefor deemed un-recyclable due to contamination.

Photo Credit: Manuel Gussman @manuelgussman

How can we improve this?

Better sorting of waste at source will undoubtably be the key to drastically reducing the size of Gili Trawangan’s dump, along with upgrading and upsizing the recycling facilities we have at present. When the national government’s plan of the ESP3R center in the middle of the island is complete, we can install all waste processing machinery and equipment directly at the dump on the new platform and aim to collaborate with the government to help in effectively managing  and enforcing access to the site. Currently 38% of recycled waste is illegally removed from the dump by other residents for personal use which represents a significant share of valuable waste required to keep this project breaking even.

Following this, we will launch our GETWasted education scheme and event to teach all businesses how to effectively sort waste and reduce material contamination as an effective solution to long term management of waste. The Eco Rangers will be deployed shortly after this event to continue to push education, awareness and staff training with reward systems and a gamification strategy towards effective waste management. Thank you for your continued support in attempting to reduce the waste and its toxic effects on our island, email us on [email protected] for more information.

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