No place for old gadgets: Jakarta’s e-waste problem
Many Jakartans keep their old gadgets Electronic waste classified as hazardous, toxic City plans to open bid on companies set to process Jakarta’s e-waste
From ex-coworkers’ contact information to photographs, it is the memories that gadgets hold that make most Jakartans feel reluctant to dispose of them — and likely the fact that they have no idea where to discard their wornout devices.
Fitri Nur Arifenie, for example, has kept the mobile devices she had used since her university days. Fourteen years on, the 32-year-old has 10 mobile phones and two tablets sitting idly in her desk drawer.
“I am not the type of person who will throw away old gadgets after getting a new one,” she said. “They store hundreds of [phone] numbers of important people I used to work with. I am afraid the data will be misused when I dispose them.”
Meanwhile, photographer Agung Hartamurti has kept his broken analog camera for three years because it reminds him of the time he spent “in search of his identity.”
However, unlike Fenny, Agung does not tend to hoard unused electronic devices.
“I’m willing to discard items like [old] TVs and laser disc players,” he said, adding that he and his family usually sold these machines to junk men. “I do not know how else to dispose of them. If one day the Jakarta administration has an e-waste program, I will prefer to use that.”
E-waste is classified as hazardous and toxic, as stipulated in Bylaw No. 3/2013 on trash management, said Ali Maulana, deputy head of the Jakarta Environment Agency.
However, aside from the bylaw, Jakarta has yet to draw up policies regulating e-waste dump management.
“At the national level, the Environment and Forestry Ministry has yet to issue such a regulation, so we find it difficult to create our own,” Ali said.
Environment and Forestry Ministry waste management director Sudirman separately confirmed that the government did not have a regulation on e-waste management, given that it is still deliberating a draft of the Government Regulation on Specific Waste, which officials have been formulating since 2015.
Despite the lack of a clear policy, the Jakarta Environment Agency took the initiative in January by issuing a decree that allows it to collect and process ewaste.
This includes the weekly deployment of a waste truck on Jakarta Car Free Day, as well as providing drop boxes to every subdistrict and district office, in which residents can discard their e-waste.
The decree also enables the agency to work with waste-treatment company PT Prasadha Pamunah Limbah Industri (PPLI) to process e-waste.
However, because the processing program was not included in the 2017 city budget, PPLI voluntarily funded the treatment of mobile phones only, said Rosa Ambarsari, head of the agency’s hazardous and toxic waste management division.
“We have allocated funding in the 2018 budget,” said Rosa, adding that next year, the administration planned to open a bid on companies set to process Jakarta’s e-waste.
“However, we still find difficulty in persuading residents to give away their e-waste for free. They are hesitant to do so because of the money they had spent on their devices,” she continued.
In June, for example, the administration handed over only 473 mobile phones to PPLI, said the company’s spokesperson, Arum Tri Pusposari.
According to 2014 Global E-Waste Monitor data from the United Nations University (UNU), Indonesians threw away an average of 3 kilograms of ewaste per year.
Hence, Arum said, it is assumed that 30,000 tons of e-waste is produced annually in Jakarta, home to some 10 million people.
“We have long wanted to work permanently with Jakarta because we are aware of its potential. We are currently drafting our memorandum of understanding (MoU) to propose to the administration,” Arum said, adding that the city had also expressed its interest to the company.
Electronic graveyard: A worker sorts through electronic parts at the Mall Rongsok consignment store in Depok, West Java, on Monday. Indonesians throw away an average of 3 kilograms of e-waste per year as there is no clear policy about how to treat e-waste.