In early December, we visited our project in Bandung for the first time in two years. It took us many hours of applying for the right visas, booking flights, and figuring out quarantine and regulations in order for us to leave.
Our travel delegation consisted of Arno Doggen, Head of Marketing at River Cleanup, Karsten Hirsch, CEO of Plastic Fischer, and Chris Lombardi, videographer of the trip. Upon arrival, we were obligated to undergo a one-week quarantine in Jakarta. The quarantine went smoothly and after 7 days we were good to go. We left for Bandung in the morning and 3 hours later we arrived in our Airbnb. In the evening we finally met with our Indonesian team and had a nice traditional Indonesian dinner together.
Our goal was to set-up a first community clean-up and install multiple Trashboom technologies. To better understand the city and its plastic pollution problems, we connected with the right people willing to support our mission of cleaning the Citarum River. These parties include schools, other NGO’s, businesses, and the government.
During the first weekend, we were invited by Bank Sampah Bersinar. The Bank Sampah, or Waste Bank in English, is a place where people can bring their household trash. In return, they get a small amount of money to incentivize them to bring it there. This particular Waste Bank separates 60 different types of trash and makes sure they are all managed in the best possible way.
We joined them during their Saturday Youth Program, where children receive free English classes in return for each bringing 10 plastic bottles. This way the bottles certainly don’t end up in nature, while the kids are learning a new language. Win-win!
One day later, we met with a special group of children in the Cibinut village. This village is located right next to the Cikapundung river, a tributary to the Citarum. Every Sunday, the Bocil Youth Organization gathers in the morning to make a tour around the neighborhood to pick up trash. They are being taught how to sort trash and understand the importance of living in a clean environment. Afterwards, the trash is managed by the local Waste Bank and sorted into different types of trash for proper recycling.
While we were visiting more schools and talking to other NGO’s active in the region, Plastic Fischer was manufacturing the latest Trashboom. A Trashboom is a river technology that acts a like a barrier to stop the floating plastic. The captured plastic is then collected and brought to a local waste management facility, like the Bank Sampah Bersinar.
During rainy season, a lot of plastic finds its way from the streets into the river. It’s therefore important to also stop the plastic before it flows into the ocean. We believe a combination of people and technology is an effective way to do so.
On our last day in Bandung, we organized a community clean-up where over 100 people joined to collect 500 kg of trash! Local NGO's, Bandung government, University students, press and many other volunteers made the Cikapunding river a cleaner place. These type of community clean-ups will happen every month as a way to connect the people in Bandung to the pollution in rivers and show that everyone can become part of the solution.