Cleanup in the vacation paradise

Date: June; 30; 2017 | Author:
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Bali, Java, Sumatra. The names of these islands bring up visions of beach holidays with sandy white beaches and crystal clear waters. Very few people have seen the waste floating in the waves or discarded packaging draping the coral reefs. Nevertheless, this is a sight that is becoming increasingly common in Indonesia, where the amount of waste has grown to become major glaring problem. 

"You see garbage in the streets, and you see it when you are travelling along the roads and railroads. It can be seen along the coasts, on the beach and in the water." It is a major problem for Indonesia and the country's large tourism industry. Indonesia dumps 1.3 million tons of plastic waste into the oceans each year. It's a shocking sight when you arrive at tourist destinations, because it washes up on beaches and gets stuck in the coral," says Jacob Stensdal Hansen, Counsellor and Head of Development at the Danish embassy in Indonesia.

Waste-filled beaches and mountains of garbage

The image of beaches strewn with garbage was also particularly shocking for the Indonesian Maritime Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who was on Christmas vacation in Bali in 2016 and experienced for himself the "enormous amount of garbage that is challenging the island's image as a vacation paradise". Danish ambassador to Indonesia, Casper Klynge, wrote about it an editorial in the Danish newspaper Berlingske in May 2017, in which he paints a picture of Indonesia's practical and political challenges with garbage.
The ugly side of paradise includes a combined total of 64 millions tons of annual waste generated by the 260 million Indonesians. 80% of the waste ends up anywhere but in waste containers, garbage trucks, monitored landfills or waste management sites. There is quite simply no tradition or system for collecting and processing waste in Indonesia. The Citarum River on Java winds past the capital and, according to Casper Klynge, "can best be described as a floating garbage dump that empties into the Jakarta Bay". Next to China, Indonesia is the country that dumps the most plastic into the ocean fractions of which become the toxic and environmentally threatening microplastics. Here, it ends up in the fish, for example.

"In the metropolitan city of Makassar, researchers recently purchased all the fish at the local market and found that 25 percent of all the fish contained visible pieces of plastic," writes Casper Klynge.

The 20 percent of waste that nevertheless is collected and deposited is primarily in the major cities, where the mountains of waste are growing taller than the cities themselves. For example, the landfill at Jakarta receives 7,000 tons of waste each day and with the current rate of landfilling, it would not be able to absorb anymore waste in near future.

"In a few years’ time, the location will reach a breaking point, and it is very difficult to find 150 hectares for a new landfill. So the volume of the waste is a major challenge in itself," says Jacob Stensdal, who explains that the Indonesian government has now recognized the need to do something quickly. 

The President's priority 

"In his brief opening address at the COP21 in Paris, the president named waste-to-energy systems as one way of handling and extracting energy from the waste. In March 2016, a presidential decree was issued that mandated seven major cities to build waste-to-energy plants. This opened a window for a massive amount of focus and investment in waste-to-energy technology," says Jacob Stensdal. 

The Danish Embassy sees waste-to-energy as a necessity to "stop the bleeding" and to solve the problem of both the cities' mountains of waste as well as the waste scattered everywhere else.

"It is better to process the waste in a highly energy-efficient waste-to-energy plant than to have plastic end up in the fish or in open locations where it can leak into the atmosphere or the aquatic environment," says Jacob Stensdal. 

According to Jacob Stensdal, the fact that the President is making this problem a priority means that Indonesians are putting a lot of weight into the quality of the solutions. 

"They are not looking at cheaper solutions, because this must be successful. Babcock & Wilcox Vølund is a world leader in this technology. Therefore, the company is well situated to tackle this issue. Front and center is Jakarta, where the first plant will go."

New Nordic venture in Jakarta

Mogens Tyllesen, Sales Director at B&W Vølund, can confirm that the company is, in fact, the nominated technology supplier to Fortum, a Finnish company that has been selected by the Jakarta Province’s Owned Enterprise, Jakarta Propertino (Jakpro) to invest, build and operate Indonesia's first waste-to-energy plant. B&W Vølund will be providing boiler and flue gas treatment and submitted a detailed proposal in June 2017.

Mogens Tyllesen and his team has visited Indonesia several times over the past 2 years to contribute with B&W Vølund's expertise in energy recovery as the last part of a waste treatment system that includes collection, recycling and reuse. Correspondingly, a large delegation from Indonesia has been to Denmark to see the existing plants and solutions in Copenhagen, e.g. CopenHill and Odense. In addition, Jakpro has also been to Finland and Denmark to see reference plants and to witness production with their own eyes.

"Jakpro has been both to Finland to see Riihimäki as a reference plant and to Esbjerg in Denmark to ensure that the grate is actually produced here in the factory in Denmark and is European designed and produced from end to end. This was very important for them," says Mogens Tyllesen.

B&W Vølund is the nominated technology supplier to Fortum, a Finnish company that has been selected by the Jakarta Province’s Owned Enterprise, Jakarta Propertino (Jakpro) to invest, build and operate Indonesia's first waste-to-energy plant. B&W Vølund will be providing boiler and flue gas treatment and submitted a detailed proposal in June 2017.

Danish assistance 

The Director of Sales was recently in a business delegation with the Minister of Development Ulla Tørnæs in early May, where Indonesia and Denmark signed a government to government collaboration agreement on waste and water, which among other things, means that the Danish Environmental Protection Agency and its Indonesian counterparts (hereunder Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of National Development Planning, and local governments, among others) will work together to create the framework for waste management. As a part of this, Denmark is deploying an expert consultant by August 1 to assist governmental authorities with waste management, recycling and waste-to-energy systems over a three-year period.

Focus on developing the framework for an investment in waste management is very important as the framework is currently non-existent. Mogens Tyllesen recognizes that even though the realization of the project seems promising, there are still some unresolved issues to overcome such as there being no local regulations controlling decisions regarding e.g., gate fees and electricity prices which are basic factors to determine the size of the basis for the investment.

"The issue of financing has not been entirely solved and this can create some uncertainty," adds Jacob Stensdal. However, he is optimistic and points to the fact that Denmark is also supporting the USD 1.2 billion "Solid Waste Management Programme" administered by the World Bank in the efforts of creating good conditions for investment in waste management.

Clear goals

Another sign pointing in the right direction is that the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan has declared that the amount of waste that the country dumps into the ocean must be reduced by 70 percent by 2025. Last, but not least, Indonesia has committed itself to increasing its share of electricity from renewable sources to 23 percent by 2025. The targets were announced to the international community and provide both an internal and external obligation.

Indonesia is embarking on an enormous clean up campaign. Denmark has offered to help by taking the country's waste and generating new energy with it. This gives hope to the ocean, to surfers, sun worshipers and divers - and to Indonesia. 

Babcock & Wilcox in Indonesia

Babcock & Wilcox Asia has been present in Indonesia for 30 years. The company has an office in Jakarta and a service shop in Cilegon.
Install base 5-6,000 MWe.

Babcock & Wilcox Vølund in Asia

B&W Vølund has already participated in building several plants in Asia, including six plants in China, including the world’s largest waste-to-energy plant in Shenzhen, Guangdong, and the Semcorp plant in Singapore.

Why can waste be harmful?

Waste is composed by numerous materials, in many cases also plastic. When plastic appears in fractions smaller than 5mm they are generally classified as microplastics. Microplastics are used in some cosmetic and personal care products, but can also be generated unintentionally, for example from fibres from clothes, particles from tyres, and abrasive sandblasting. Other microplastics result from the breakup of larger plastic objects in the oceans causing damage to the marine environment. 

There are currently no systems to fully filter them out through wastewater treatment. The small size of microplastics means that they can be ingested by marine life. It is difficult to make predictions about the risks of ingesting microplastics due to the variety of composition, shape and size. 

Toxicity could be caused by the plastic polymer itself, the additives it contains, or by other chemicals that associate with microplastics when they are in the ocean. 

Sources: House of Commons, “Environmental impact of microplastics”, 2016; Royal Society of Chemestry,, 2016; The Independent, May 2016.

Waste-Free Indonesia by 2020 

In the National Mid-Term Development Plan for 2015-2019, the Government of Indonesia has set ambitious targets of reducing landfilling by 20% out of 124.6 million tons in 5 years in 380 cities. The reduction efforts consists of extended producer responsibility, 3R (reuse, reduce, and recycle), increasing the number and capacity of recycle centers, and waste banks. The mid-term plan also sets a target of 75% managed waste or 97.8 million in 5 years in 380 cities. This target is to be achieved through better separation at sources, composting and urban farming, and waste to energy.  Just recently, Government of Indonesia launched a campaign of “Waste-Free Indonesia by 2020”.  The Indonesian Government has also recently announced that marine plastic waste must be reduced with 70 % from now to 2025.

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