Work from Home Cutting Down Waste in Indonesia?

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Illustration of the city of Jakarta during the period of working at home.

The implementation of Work from Home (WFH) policy which is deemed an effort to cut off the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted environmental condition. The less outdoor activity has given momentum for earth to relax. The use of air conditioning in office buildings and consumption of fossil fuel drastically drop. Air quality is growing better.

Such a situation also has an impact to consumption pattern of the community. Office building and public facilities stop their operating hours. Hence, the waste produced by the community during the pandemic is assumingly decreasing. But, is it correct?

Jakarta’s Environment Office recorded the declining amount of waste since the WFH enactment on March 16, 2020. The decrease of waste is about 620 tons at average per day. This is due to the drastic downswing of outdoor activities, related particularly to commercial spots such as hotel, malls, office and public facilities.

“The plummet is by comparing the daily average of waste on March 1-5, 2020, before WFH policy to the average tonnage of waste on March 16-31, 2020, following the implementation of WFH,” said Andono Warih, the Head of Jakarta’s Environment Office, without detailing the waste production prior to WFH.

Read also: No Plastic During Ramadan

Unfortunately, the decline of waste production does not happen to other regions outside Jakarta, including those with large-scale social restrictions (PSBB). Contrary to the fact, the rising volume of domestic waste happens to Depok City, West Java Province. It occurs due to the fact that many of Depok residents are workers in Jakarta. Domestic waste from Depok increases from 600-700 tons into 800 tons per day.

“Most of public activities is now done at home and thus it affects the rising volume of waste production,” said Iyay Gumilar, the Head of Depok’s City Sanitation and Environment Office.

Similarly, the mounting volume of waste also happens to South Tangerang, Banten Province. During the large-scale social restrictions, the total volume of waste has never declined. The volume of domestic waste increases despite the drastic drop of waste volume from shopping centers and restaurants.

“At least, waste volume increases by 10 percent. The rise is due to the fact that waste from Jakarta ‘is disposed’ to South Tangerang,” said Toto Sudarto, the Head of South Tangerang’s Environment Office, failing to mention the details of waste production prior to the large-scale social restrictions.

Read also: Looming Threat of Plastic Debris on Sea

On the other side, waste volume in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, is stagnant. The WFH policy does not affect the volume of waste production. The Head of Samarinda’s Environment Office, Nurrahmani, said the volume of waste is stable at about 800 tons per day. “Despite the stagnancy, dry waste on the street declines. However, wet waste is on the rise,” said Nurrahmani.

Meanwhile, the study conducted by the Center of Oceanography Study and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) found that plastic waste production increases in the Greater Jakarta. During the large-scale social restrictions, online shopping has been increasing. Formerly, residents of the Greater Jakarta only made 1-5 online shopping a month. During the large-scale social restrictions and WFH, online shopping has been intensified up to 1-10 times a month.

Plastic wrap, bubble wrap, and plastic tape are the most frequently used packaging. Moreover, the volume of plastic wrap extensively grows beyond the volume of plastic-made food packaging. On the other side, public has not yet had proper awareness on waste selection. Considering the fact, pandemic situation does not automatically reduce the volume of waste production. 

Editor: Leo Wahyudi

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