Indonesia’s Waste Emergency: Indonesia’s Landfills are on the Verge of Overcapacity

All these times we continue to think that TPA stands for Tempat Pembuangan Akhir,  or in other words, a final waste disposal area. However, Law Number 18 Year 2008 regarding Waste Management states that the definition of TPA is in fact, a final processing place, not disposal.

Entrance to the Integrated Waste Processing Site (TPST) Bantar Gebang, Bekasi. Photo source:

Furthermore, TPA is defined as a place to process and safely return waste back to the environment without damaging both humans and the environment itself.

TPA or Landfill is not a shelter

In addition, there is also the term TPS, which should be defined as a temporary disposal area, not waste disposal are. Unlike the usual landfills, TPS is a place to accommodate waste temporarily before they are carried to recycling centers or other waste-processing facilities.

The existing misconceptions amongst the general public regarding TPA (landfills) have only worsened the state of waste emergency in Indonesia, since it perpetuates the mindset of how landfills are supposed to accommodate all the waste that we generate without the need to process or even segregate it, as if all those waste will just vanish into thin air.  

In principle, waste should first be processed according to its type or material. Plastic waste, for example, can be turned into plastic pellets, which can be further processed in order to make new things.

Similarly, organic waste can be decomposed using several methods, which will turn the waste into fertilizer. That way, the waste that will end up in landfills are only the ones that are difficult to be recycled/processed. A good way to support this argument is by looking at Japan.

There exist several waste-processing facilities in the samurai country, and such waste management system is proven to be effective in reducing the amount of waste that end up in landfills.

The evidence can be seen from a 2015 data, in which the amount of generated waste is as much as 43,98 million tons. However, out of the total amount, only 9,48% of it that went to landfills.

Example of Waste Management in Japan. Incombustible waste are being processed at Chumo Incombustible Waste Processing Center in Tokyo. Sumber foto: HORNYAK
Example of Waste Management in Japan. Incombustible waste are being processed at Chumo Incombustible Waste Processing Center in Tokyo. Sumber foto: HORNYAK

The Condition of Landfills in Indonesia

Bantar Gebang landfill is probably the most (in)famous landfill in Indonesia, even though there are many existing landfills across Indonesia’s provinces. Moreover, Indonesia’s landfills are basically facing the same condition: overcapacity.  

Suwung Landfill: Prone to Caught Fire and Needs Revitalization

Scavengers are seen to be picking waste amongst cows in Suwung landfill, Denpasar. Source:
Scavengers are seen to be picking waste amongst cows in Suwung landfill, Denpasar. Source:

Sarbagita Suwung landfill, usually called TPA Suwung is located in South Denpasar district, Denpasar, Bali. This landfill receive as many as 1.423 tons of waste every day. Suwung landfill sits on a 32,4 hectares of land, but not even a spacious area can prevent the landfill from becoming overcapacity.

Moreover, the piles of waste in Suwung landfill can amount to 15-25 meters in height. This is dangerous because such piles can lead to potential landslides.

Moreover, on Monday, 24th of September 2018, a fire occured in Suwung landfills, which burned almost half of the landfill total area. Based on an interview between RRI and Denpasar city’s BPBD Secretariat, Mr. Ardy Ganggas on Thursday  (27/9/18), the fire caused some disturbance to the surrounding residents due to the thick smoke.

The fog also impeded the traffic in Ngurah Rai Bypass, Bali Mandara Highway, as well as the flight activity. Mr. Ardy also added that the fire in Suwung landfill occured at least once a year.

In response to the overcapacity problem in Suwung landfill, the local government plans to extend the revitalization process, which originally ended in 2020/2021, to 2024.

Minister of Public Works and Housing, Mr. Basuki Hadimuljono stated that the revitalization of the landfill will be done by expanding the service area to include one more district, which is Klungkung.

In addition, the revitalization process will also include both the closure and arrangement of an area of 22,4 hectares that are covered with waste.

Sarimukti Landfill in Bandung: Nearing Closure, yet The Replacement Landfill is not Ready 

This is how the condition looks like in Sarimukti landfill, which is located in Cipatat, West Bandung district. Source:
This is how the condition looks like in Sarimukti landfill, which is located in Cipatat, West Bandung district. Source:

According to West Java’s Regional Waste Management Board (BPSR), the number of waste that were disposed in the landfill is around 1.500 tons of waste per day, which is equal to 3,000 cubic meter of waste.

The waste in Sarimukti landfill came from three regions: Cimahi, West Bandung district, as well as the city of Bandung. Sarimukti landfill was originally planned to halt its operation in year 2021, but then it was extended for another year, which is in 2022.

To prepare for the closure of this landfill, the government of West Java province is trying to speed up the construction of the regional Legok Nangka landfill, since government had planned to complete and start using the landfill on the same year when the Sarimukti landfill close its operation.

According the West Java’s Regional Secretary, Iwa Karniwa, Sarimukti landfill’s capacity to accommodate the incoming waste is getting limited. That is why the completion of the Legok Nangka landfill should not be delayed.

Piyungan Landfill in Yogyakarta: Continue to Receive an Increasing Amount of Waste

Several waste pickers are navigating through piles of waste in Piyungan landfill, Yogyakarta. Source: tribunjogja/agung ismiyanto
Several waste pickers are navigating through piles of waste in Piyungan landfill, Yogyakarta. Source: tribunjogja/agung ismiyanto

Piyungan landfill in Yogyakarta also faces a similar problem. The landfill receive waste from three areas: Sleman, Bantul, and the city of Yogyakarta. Every day, the amount of waste that are disposed to this landfill is around 600 tons of waste, and 80% of them solely come from Yogyakarta city.

Mr. Wahid as the Head of Waste, Hazardous and Toxic Waste, and Capacity Building division of Bantul Environmental Department states, “Waste generation from DIY province kept on increasing. As of now, Piyungan landfill is estimated to be able to receive waste only for another 2 or 3 years.”

He also added that the waste in Piyungan landfill should have been processed optimally in order to avoid such problems. Piyungan landfill could even give benefits to the surrounding residents.

The Revitalization of Terjun Landfill in Medan, North Sumatera

The condition of Terjun Landfill, Medan. Sumber: Tribunnews
The condition of Terjun Landfill, Medan. Sumber: Tribunnews

Terjun landfill receive waste from 21 districts in the city of Medan. It is located in Paluh Nibung, Terjun District, Medan Marelan. It was reported that the condition of Terjun landfill is concerning, and the landfill is estimated to be able to operate for one more year.

In the wake of this problem, the Park and Sanitary Office of Medan has allocated a budget of 7.6 billion Rupiah for the construction of operational road as well as the opening of new areas in Terjun landfill.

As for the waste management system in the landfill itself, as much as 3,2 billion Rupiah has been put into budget for the procurement of facilities that will help in processing the waste.

Moreover, in regards to the revitalization process, the Mayor of Medan, Dzulmi Eldin, expressed his optimism on Thursday, 18th January 2018 that the revitalization process of Terjun landfill can finish within the same year.

Besides the over capacity problem, Terjun landfill also had cases of goons in early 2018. The goons would go so far as to force the waste trucks’ driver to give up the waste that they are transporting to the collectors of used goods.

The coercion would also involved breaking the car’s glass. Medan’s Police Department stated that they were currently looking into the problem by deploying several personnels into the field. They also encourage truck drivers to not hesitate in reporting such cases if they were to happen again.

Ways to Reduce the Amount of Waste That End Up in Landfills

Based on what Ir. Mohamad Satori, MT, who is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Padjajaran University’s Environmental Science, says on Thursday (28/1/2016), “If everything we talk about to overcome the waste problem is only limited to landfill, then the problem will not be solved. One day, landfills will be full and can no longer accommodate our waste.”

‘Increasing landfills’ capacity, and even establishing new ones, can only do so much to solve our waste problem. We need to address the roots of the problem, which is high production of waste as well as terrible waste management.

Therefore, the solution to our landfills being overload is to return landfills to its original purpose, which is to accommodate residual waste that are difficult to be recycled/processed.

There are ways that we can do to help address this problem, and one of the ways is to adopt a responsible waste management system.

Zero Waste to Landfill program from Waste4Change

As a social enterprise that focuses in responsible waste management, one of the services that is offered by Waste4Change is called Zero Waste to Landfill, or usually known as ZWTL (

This service aims to ensure that the waste produced by Waste4Change’s clients do not end up in landfills. Moreover, the waste management services that are provided by Waste4Change are not only aimed at companies/business/residential areas, but also consist of individual waste collection.

At the individual level, every person can start to segregate waste and divide it into several categories. You can further learn about waste segregation through this link

The segregated waste can later be distributed to any organizations/community capable of processing them, such as the waste bank or Waste4Change.

If every individual does their part to segregate waste, then the notion of Zero Waste to Landfill (ZWTL) is not something that is impossible to achieve, and the landfills in Indonesia would not be in such a bad state.

 Waste4Change’s operators posing in front of our garbage truck.
Waste4Change’s operators posing in front of our garbage truck.

Moreover, Waste4Change is here to offer you waste management services in order to support Indonesia’s Mission to be  as well as circular economy.

Kindly contact Waste4Change for responsible and segregated waste collection services!

Read the article in Indonesian version in here.

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