Waste Management in Surabaya

By Dini Putri Saraswati

Have you ever wondered why Surabaya is so green and clean? The answer dwells in the advanced technology Surabaya applies to manage its municipal waste. Most of the waste management technology is a result of Surabaya's international cooperation with Kitakyushu, a leading city in promoting the green city concept across the globe. The two cities exchange experience in waste management which later applied hand in hand with Surabaya green cities' vision.

As the second-largest city in Indonesia, Surabaya is actually setting its path towards zero waste along with other cities in the world. There are two types of waste materials that are being recycled by Surabaya, such as organic and inorganic. First of all, as a city that is surrounded by trees and green open spaces, Surabaya produces approximately 192 m3 of organic waste from the regular tree trimming in one area. Twigs and leaves go to a composting site to be processed as compost. At the composting site, the branches and leaves are chopped by the shredding machine and gathered in piles. After 1-2 weeks the piles turn into compost and are ready to be used. In Surabaya, the compost is freely distributed to the Surabaya people.

There are also gasification machines at several composting sites, such as in Bratang and Wonorejo. This machine is for turning waste into energy by putting dried tree boughs and aluminum plastic bags inside. It burns the waste as the fuel for the incineration process to produce 4,000-watt electricity. For the moment, the produced electricity is only for the public lighting infrastructures at nearby parks.   

In terms of inorganic waste, Surabaya has been encouraging households to practice basic waste separation at home through waste banks. Waste banks are community-based movements that have been successfully integrated various aspects of economic, social, and environmental sustainability. All the separated inorganic waste is sent to the waste bank to be weighed. Waste bank customers will receive monetary compensation based on the type and amount of their waste. Then, the waste materials are disposed to the collectors or recycling companies. This movement is first started as the prerequisite of the government-run cleaning competition called Surabaya Green and Clean, but now it grows rapidly and has supported the community’s livelihood.

Furthermore, Surabaya has sorting and recycling facilities at Super Depo Sutorejo and Pusat Daur Ulang Jambangan. The local dustmen will assemble their collected garbage to a big conveyor belt to be sorted by the waste sorters. The organic waste goes to the composting sites, the inorganic waste is sold by the dustmen and waste sorters, and the rest is deported to the landfill. This innovation is not only reducing municipal waste but also creating green jobs for society. Apart from their monthly salary, the dustmen and waste sorters might earn more income from the sales of inorganic waste.

In order to support the smart city concept, Surabaya also applies waste management technology in its landfill through Benowo Waste Power Plant. This waste management system is expected to provide solutions to waste problems as well as generate economic added value by converting waste into an effective and efficient power generation. The mechanism is a little bit similar to the gasification installation where the waste is burned and the methane gas produced by the waste is utilized as a generator for generating electricity. The waste power plant is now able to deliver 2 Megawatt per day. In the future, Surabaya expects to increase the capacity to 11 Megawatt per day.   

In CENTRIUS, we believe that the advanced green technology that has been developed by Surabaya can be a good example for other cities or countries, especially Surabaya is the role model for waste management in Indonesia. As knowledge is the leading factor that drives national development, we are aware that Surabaya has the potential for establishing knowledge and technology transfer partnerships. Synergising Surabaya with other stakeholders from different countries will not only benefit its strategic partners, but also Surabaya itself as the city still needs to improve the waste management system and raise more awareness about this issue.