MPH Tackles Bali’s Mounting Waste Problem at the Village Level

by Anita

According to the World Bank’s global review of solid waste management, 62 percent of Indonesia’s household waste is organic, and convertible into compost, and the rest consists of paper, plastic, glass and metal, most of which can be repurposed. Despite this, unprocessed waste continues to flood Bali’s poorly-managed landfill sites, waterways and oceans, or is simply burned by the roadside.

While, Bali is still in the beginning phases of setting up a waste disposal system and recycling facilities, a group of like-minded individuals have developed the MPH Circular Approach to help kickstart waste management projects around the island. The MPH approach (MPH stands for Merah, Putih, Hijau or Red, White, Green) endeavours to implement a color-coded waste separation and recycling strategy at the village level—this being in line with the 2008 waste management laws that give villages and provinces the authority to develop and run their own waste management infrastructure.

Founded in 2016, the MPH project selected Desa Pererenan in Southwest Bali as its showcase village. Since then, the organization has been working with the local community in the area to implement a waste separation plan and build recycling infrastructure, a strategy that will hopefully be replicated in other villages around the island in the future. “Desa Pererenan has provided land and in return MPH has promised to donate 500 million Rupiah to build and operate a fully functional recycling and composting facility,” says Sean Nino, a waste management specialist and a staunch supporter of the project. “We are currently building the site and installing a forced aeration system for large scale composting. Plastic, metal, paper and glass are all sorted and sold to the recycling industry. The residue amounts to around ten to twenty percent, which is then taken by truck to the TPA Suwung dump.”

Nino says that the biggest challenge the MPH project is facing is enforcing the waste management principles that have already been formulated by the law and environmental agencies in Indonesia. By working on the village level, MPH hopes to provide the tools to make waste management principles a reality within Balinese communities. “Waste management requires a persistent, consistent and repetitive system to build and maintain trust over time,” he says. “The MPH approach will fund the first 6 -12 months of operations in each selected village before handing over the infrastructure to the community. We have raised the first 500 million for Pererenan through a fundraiser, individual donations and tourist resorts.”

While the MPH project is owned and managed by the community, up to date over 40 people have helped the endeavour with their knowledge and time as volunteers in areas such as engineering, software design, financial modeling, and data monitoring. And their commitment and hard work is clearly paying off. “We now have a set of guidelines, standard operating procedures, technical building designs, communication tools, and reporting and monitoring tools in the area of waste management.” Nino says. “Currently, the project also involves the Dojo coworking space, the environmental organization Pererenan Gumi Lestari, as well as two universities, namely TU Eindhoven and ITB.”

The MPH approach bares multiple benefits for the local communities, a fact that Nino hopes will motivate villages to implement the project’s waste separation and management strategy. Not only does the approach save on the cost of trucking waste to landfills and reduces CO2, but it also creates jobs for local villagers who are employed to collect waste, sort it and ensure that it is recycled or composted. While dry waste such as plastic, paper, glass and metal can be sold to the recycling industry, wet waste such as kitchen scraps is usually composted. “Organic waste can be transformed into compost, bagged and sold to farmers,” Nino says. “This means that it eventually ends up in the ground to rehabilitate the soil and nourish new plants.”

While MPH is a kickstarter that aims to get waste management infrastructure and strategy in motion within Balinese communities, these will eventually be handed over as village-owned businesses called BUMDes (Badan Usaha Milik Desa). The MPH can provide the knowhow, infrastructure and support to the local villages, but ultimately it will be up to the communities themselves to ensure that the project is a success. Nino believes that a sense of ownership will make the villagers more motivated to participate in the project. “The Balinese community has been very open to waste management solutions,” he says. “Waste management involves and touches every single person. Most people tend to be lazy and forgetful when it comes to the environment. This is why MPH follows a community approach. The community is capable of enforcing simple rules. Waste separation is the key       to successful waste management and I believe that it is best dealt with at a community level.”

Nino hope that the MPH project in Pererenan   will achieve sustainability by the end of the year, and eventually allow the community to sort and process 90 percent of their waste. Once fully set up, the aim is to replicate the model in villages across the island, ensuring that the value crated by efficient waste management stays within each community. “We are collaborating with Made Kusuma in Desa Baturiti and also working with Komang Cahyendra in Desa Sayan. Melinggih Kelod, Seseh and Nyanyi are also showing interest,” Nino says. “We would love to support and kickstart a total of 50 village projects over the next five years.”

To find out more about the MPH project or donate visit: