Where Does the Plastic Go After I Recycle It?

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SMAN 1 Semarapura’s Eco-Club members run a very successful recycling program at their school.  They recently asked me: Where does the plastic, paper and glass we recycle at our school travel to after it leaves our school? To answer that question we put on our new Eco Club T-Shirts, hopped on a bus and traveled to Bali Recycling in Mas, about 30 minutes away.   Here we learned that 90% to 95% of the waste we send to them is recycled into products such as handbags, wallets, shoes, pallets, glasses, sweaters etc.  The remainder that can’t be recycled is sent to the Temesi Landfill where it is responsibly managed.

Olivier teaching us about what happens to what we recycle.

Olivier teaching us about what happens to what we recycle.

Founder Olivier Poullion walked us through the whole process from when the material arrives at Bali Recycling through how he converts the garbage into pretty cool products.  He urged us to think about our waste as a valuable commodity that with some creativity and technical know-how really does have monetary value.

Reycycled Paper for Bags

Reycycled Paper for Bags

Beautiful bags from recycled plastic

Beautiful bags from recycled plastic

Recycled wine bottles become cool glasses

Recycled wine bottles become cool glasses

Olivier recently won an award for a cool new application he is developing that will allow kids (and others) to sell recyclable waste directly.  More about this when the program gets up and running.

Eco Club Team with the Bali Recycling Crew

Eco Club Team with the Bali Recycling Crew

We also visited with Supardi the Manager of Rumah Kompos Padangtegal near the Monkey Forest in Ubud.  His operation is really the whole package.  They process more than 600 kg per day of waste from the residences, hotels and restaurants in their village.

Composting waste from the village

Composting waste from the village

They compost the organic waste, recycle the plastic, glass and paper and what they can’t reuse, they send to Temesi.  Kudos to the village of Padangtegal and Pak Kadek Gunarta of Yoga Barn for setting up and subsidizing this venture through ticket sales at the Monkey Forest.

Eco Clubbers with Rumah Kompos Padangtegal Crew

Eco Clubbers with Rumah Kompos Padangtegal Crew

After viewing these two very positive examples of how Balinese are responsibly managing their waste, we also were exposed to a more negative garbage scene in a village near Ubud.  Here an illegal dump is being operated.

Illegal dump near Ubud.  Garbage has filled a riverbed more than 12 feet high.

Illegal dump near Ubud. Garbage has filled a riverbed more than 12 feet high.

Instead of paying the slightly higher cost of shipping waste to a responsible facility, it is being diverted into this riverbed where it is polluting the land nearby and will eventually deposit refuse throughout the whole length of the river and down to the sea.  The SMA1 kids were appalled this was happening, and couldn’t understand what was wrong with the grownups who were allowing this to happen. Finally, we stopped for a very tasty lunch at Warung Mina where we discussed what we had learned.  Our principal Pak Suamba said he was inspired to start a compost operation at his school to compliment the ongoing non-organic recycling program.  The Eco-Club members were inspired, thinking about reaching out to middle schools in the neighborhood, and dedicated to keeping their school and island Beautiful. IMG_3083IMG_3082IMG_3085IMG_3086

Pak Dave with the talented staff at Warung Mina.

Pak Dave with the talented staff at Warung Mina.

Keep Bali Beautiful!!! Head Cheerleader Pak Dave

3 thoughts on “Where Does the Plastic Go After I Recycle It?

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