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Indonesian village banks trash to earn cash

Monday, October 03, 2011 - 02:14

Oct. 3 - Villagers in the small Indonesian town of Badegan have taken recycling to a new level. As part of a campaign to deal with an abundance of trash, a so-called garbage bank has been developed. Instead of depositing money, villagers deposit trash which is then sold to larger recycling firms for profit. Ben Gruber reports.

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The village of Badegan has a trash problem. Since an earthquake decimated the town in 2006, villagers have been slowly trying to rebuild their waste management infrastructure. It's been an uphill battle. Bambang Surwerda, a teacher at a local college, says the solution lies in making money from the mess. He says the trash can be turned into treasure and he's proving it with what he calls the "garbage bank". SOUNDBITE: BAMBANG SUWERDA, GARBAGE BANK ORIGINATOR SAYING: "By making garbage management simple we help educate children on the importance of a clean environment while at the same overcoming our problem with too much garbage in our village." The bank is called Gemah Ripah - an Indonesian term meaning "movement to recycle", and that is exactly what it is - a communal recycling centre. Villagers collect recyclable trash such as rubber, plastic, and paper and deposit it at the bank. They are given a deposit slip based on the weight of the trash they brought in. At the end of each month, the bank negotiates the sale of its communal garbage collection with a large recycling firm. The profits are then distributed back into the community. Surweda says many of the bank's garbage collectors are children. He says his biggest reward is not the money generated, but the knowledge that they are learning about the importance of a clean environment. 14 year old Arif Fitria Himawan says the money he earns collecting garbage allows him to succeed in school. SOUNDBITE: ARIF FITRIA HIMAWAN, STUDENT SAYING: "There are great benefits from saving in garbage bank. I am using the money I earn to buy school supplies like ballpoint pens, pencils and books." Another student, nine-year-old Nisa Nazmi Azahra, says her greatest reward is a cleaner neighbourhood. SOUNDBITE: NISA NIZAM AZAHRA, STUDENT SAYING: "One benefit of a cleaner environment is having less mosquitoes flying around while, at the same time, making money by depositing trash in the garbage bank." Suwerda says 20 banks have already been established and he hopes more are on the way. He says his banks can enrich a community as well as clean it up. Ben Gruber, Reuters.

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Indonesian village banks trash to earn cash

Monday, October 03, 2011 - 02:14

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