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INDONESIA

Jakarta’s poorest living off rubbish heaps

2 min

While the Indonesian authorities collect most of the islands' rubbish from the streets, they fail to actually dispose of it. By dawn, the growing mountains of rubbish on the outskirts of cities become the workplace for over 500,000 illegal workers. Known as trash pickers, they dig through the waste for any scrap that will fetch a price. Read more...

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Photo by Flick user Matt Crook.

While the Indonesian authorities collect most of the islands' rubbish from the streets, they fail to actually dispose of it. By dawn, the growing mountains of rubbish on the outskirts of cities become the workplace for over 500,000 illegal workers. Known as trash pickers, they dig through the waste for any scrap that will fetch a price.

Indonesia produces 45 million cubic metres of refuse waste each year; the capital itself could fill more than ten Olympic swimming pools in rubbish each day.

For the disposal of this enormous mass, sixty percent of the islands' cities rely on "unmanaged" dump sites. That means that while 80 percent of waste is collected, transported, and disposed of on an official dump site, it is not treated or removed.

In 1995 the government committed itself to a "waste minimisation scheme" and began promoting what they labelled the "3Rs" - reuse, reduce, recycle. Fifteen years later however, and the dumps continue to be filled with thousands of tonnes daily. Not only do hundreds of thousands of scavengers live off the leftovers, but so do the cattle of the local farmers.

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