Why Waste Separation at Source So Important?

A simple act towards a sustainable lifestyle

Have you ever seen one of those trucks crossing around town to collect waste? Oh, you must remember them because now it brings back that lingering olfactory memory that makes you automatically want to breathe through your mouth.

Yes, look closely and you’ll see all sorts of waste inside the truck: from plastic bottles to banana peels to cardboard boxes to dried leaves to plastic bags to veggie stalks to paper to waterless coconuts to pair-less flip-flops to every man-made item under the sun. Have you ever wondered what will happen to these unseparated wastes? Did it make you wonder what happens to your unsorted waste? Can it be recycled?

Contaminated waste, say paper that is smeared by a greasy plastic bag or someone’s leftover stale lunch, loses their value; and unsorted waste will become harder to recycle since it’ll be costlier, requires more manpower to process it, and sometime it just contaminated to the point it cannot be recycled any more

Once contaminated, a potentially recyclable waste will simply end up in a landfill.

Red & Green

Waste separation at source (be that from home, office, villa, restaurant or even large-scale festivals) is a key component in the concerted effort to diverse waste from landfills and to maximize the recovery of recyclables.

“Our main mission here in ecoBali is zero waste-to-landfill, and to make that happen we recycle as much waste as possible,” says Ketut Mertaadi, Director of ecoBali. “And how do we do that? By separating waste at the source so no recyclables are contaminated.”

So how can we effectively avoid such contamination? At  ecoBali we apply separation at source, meaning that we provide two color-coded bins for easier separation: red means it’s for plastic (all sorts of waste, including plastic bags), cans, and glass; while green is for paper (which includes milk and juice beverage cartons). And we encourage people to compost their own biodegradable waste (food scraps, garden waste) so as to not mix them with non-organic waste.

Admittedly, persuading people to separate their waste is still a challenge, as Pak Ketut noted that in Indonesia we seem to still be in the “don’t litter” phase, let alone asking to sort and recycle waste. The issue is a global thing, however, with the world currently still producing around 300 million tons of plastic each year, and only around 11% of them are recycled.

Fortunately, the number of concerned citizens is auspiciously growing. “Waste separation at source is critical in more ways than one—not only does it empower individuals to become engaged with the products and packaging we’re consuming, but it also enables a connection with the waste we create,” says Kelly Ariella, co-founder of Air Festival, who employs ecoBali red and green bins for the first time at this year’s festivity. “By becoming proactive and involved in the separation process, we are able to streamline efforts in creating a more efficient system for all involved to reuse and recycle.”

 Rocking to a sustainable future. The members of the band Superman is Dead are one of those concerned citizens who practices waste separation at source.

Separate, Don’t Contaminate

There are ways to ensure the maximum recovery of recyclables, which are as follows:


– Type of plastic packaging: PET (water and beverage bottle), HDPE (such as liquid soap or sunscreen bottle); PVC; LDPE (plastic bags, plastic wrapping); PP (food container, bottle caps); PS (Styrofoam); and others (face wash or cream bottle).

“Clean” your plastic water bottles, meaning that you remove the cap, the neck, and the label. This is done to make the sorting process faster and more efficient, and because the cap and the bottle are made from two different types of plastic.

If possible, rinse plastic bags, cans, and glass before throwing them into the bin. Dirty waste makes them prone to be delivered to landfills instead.

And to avoid contamination: Absolutely NO food scraps.


Types of paper waste: beverage cartons, office papers, newspaper, magazines, books, catalogs, tissues, receipts, powdered milk cartons, receipts, envelopes, paper bags, paper cups, cardboard boxes, cigarette case, and other paper-based waste.

For easier sorting and faster delivery process, remove the straws and flatten milk beverage cartons.

And it needs to be re-emphasized: ABSOLUTELY NO FOOD SCRAPS.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *