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Newsletter and Technical Publications
<Municipal Solid Waste Management>


Sound Practices
Composting

1.4.4 Example of sound practice

The Jakarta composting experiments

The development of community-based composting in Jakarta represents an example of sound practice for composting in a developing country.

Aid from Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand helped to initiate pilot projects in Jakarta in the 1980s. Later, the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) and the Centre for Policy Implementation Studies, supported by the Government of Indonesia and the Jakarta City government, worked on a model for operating small-scale, neighborhood composting in Jakarta. Starting around 1992 several small composting enterprises were set up in Jakarta.

The Jakarta experiments incorporated sound practices in small-scale composting in similar cities, while enhancing the role of the informal sector. The project trained individuals already involved in materials processing and taught them the basics of composting. A second element was compost market stimulation through training the intermediate buyers of recyclables to understand the physical and commercial properties of the compost.

In the pilot project, measures were taken to protect the workersÕ health, but it is uncertain if these precautions will be observed when and if private entrepreneurs take over the model and operate it as businesses. Sound practice would follow up the pilot projects by creating the urban infrastructure both to facilitate more enterprises and to monitor the labor conditions.

The Jakarta research project provides a good example of how cities can begin to examine possible sound practices in the composting of municipal solid wastes. An assessment of small-scale, multi-source composting projects in Jakarta and Bandung, done in 1994, suggested that such composting can achieve important reductions in wastes and contribute to the improvement of the neighborhood environment. Critical to the lasting success of such projects are good management and market research, and a consistent institutional support system.

Neighborhood composting in South Africa

One sound approach to small-scale composting avoids the problem of mixed wastes by taking only yard wastes. In the larger municipalities of South Africa, garden waste is not collected. Instead, there are "greens" yards in designated suburbs to which residents can bring their yard waste for composting.

These neighborhood depots also serve as drop-off centers for glass, cans, and paper. This type of waste reduction program is suitable for areas where gardens are large and residents have vehicles to transport their wastes to the depots. There are sections of cities across Africa that could benefit from the adoption of such small-scale composting programs.

European biowaste

For industrialized countries, the European biowaste system described earlier represents a sound practice, because it is a system-wide approach to composting beginning with separation protocols and continuing though to compost marketing.

One significant element in the success of European composting systems is the tight regulation of European landfills, and the imposition of landfill bans against recyclable, compostable, and combustible materials. This has created a positive economic and institutional environment where composting systems can successfully compete against landfilling.

A second element is the integration of source separation and separate collection of biowastes, which provides a large stream of clean material to European composting facilities.

A third is the predominance of relatively small and frequently modular composting facilities, each processing 10-100 tons of compost per day, which have been designed for source-separated organics. These work better and provide more flexibility than the larger, more complex installations that were originally designed for mixed solid waste.

The soundness of European composting is also related to the aggressive stance of European governments and the European Union in setting and enforcing compost standards.

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