'Trash donors' sought for charity

by Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Nov 30, 2004

Jakarta, Indonesia -- "Killing two birds with one stone" is not an empty proverb for low-cost apartment residents built by Taiwan-based Buddha Tzu Chi Foundation in Cengkareng Timur, West Jakarta.

They not only help clean up some parts of the city by collecting non-organic waste from nearby areas but also sort it into three categories of paper, plastic and aluminum cans before selling it.

The money derived from the non-organic waste is to finance the foundation's charities, which have been ongoing for seven months.

So far, the residents have collected waste from houses, shops, restaurants and other small firms that have agreed to "donate" their garbage to the foundation.

"We collect the (non-organic) waste door to door and we are still seeking more 'donors'," Abdul Muis, property management division head of PT Graha Bina Mandiri, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

PT Graha Bina Mandiri is the company that manages the low-cost apartments, which are currently occupied by some 1,100 families. The residents had been evicted from Kapuk Muara riverbanks, North Jakarta, and started to live in the apartments in August 2003.

Abdul declined to mention the profit gained from the sale of the non-organic waste but beritajakarta.com quoted the foundation deputy chairman Sugianto Kusuma as saying that it had collected some Rp 65 million (US$7,222).

Abdul said around 750 residents in three luxury housing complexes in Ancol Timur, Ancol Barat and Muara Karang and 50 firms and individuals in other parts of Greater Jakarta have agreed to donate their non-organic waste.

The agreement allows apartment residents to collect the garbage from house owners and the firms every two weeks.

Each resident is given two plastic bags by the foundation. The green bags are for plastic waste while the yellow ones are for cans or aluminum waste. For cardboard and paper, house owners and the firms just tie it up and put it outside their premises.

To pick up the waste, the foundation uses a garbage truck and will rent another one if necessary.

"When picking up the waste, the truck crew usually put on music that will signal house owners and company staff to come out of their premises and hand over their waste to us," Abdul said.

The foundation can collect up to seven tons of waste in a month.

To expand the business, the foundation management has met with residents in Kelapa Gading and will soon meet with those in Sunter Agung, both in North Jakarta, to collect more "garbage donations". Abdul estimated that there would be around 1,350 prospective donors in both areas.

He added that the foundation also plans to meet residents in the elite residential areas of Pondok Indah in South Jakarta and Bumi Serpong Damai in Tangerang.

In the long run, the foundation aims to produce recycled items from the non-organic waste.

"The objective is to change garbage into gold and the gold will become love among human beings. We hope we can help materialize the dream of the poor to have a decent life through charity," said Sugianto, adding that the activity was inspired by a similar activity in Taiwan.