06 Dec 2019
Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. People have recently started to learn that the planet is becoming progressively unfit for human habitation. Millions of tons of plastic debris are dumped into the ocean every year, which serves as both the planet’s primary food source and the focal point of its ecology.
When we visited at her office in Serpong, Tangerang, the Director of BPPT’s Polymer Technologies Center, FM Erny S. Soekotjo, M.Sc., acknowledged that plastic has been quite hostile during the past five years. This results from a lack of knowledge regarding plastic. In today’s world, only plastic bags or food packaging bags have any significance.
In actuality, we rely heavily on plastic every day. When we awaken, we brush our teeth with a plastic toothbrush,” said Erny.
According to Erny, the rapid development of plastic after its discovery was due to its many benefits, such as lightweight, robust, corrosive-resistant, affordable, and useful. Consequently, in a short period of time, plastic displaced metal and wood as the new idol for a variety of demands.
Plastic, often known as a polymer, is a more recent substance than metal. Plastic can still evolve physically up to this point. We are still highly interested in creating new goods that are tailored to customer demands, Erny remarked.
Plastic’s significant disadvantage is that it is difficult for bacteria and other microbes to break it down, thereby pollutes the environment. In a process known as polymerization, polymers are created by joining together smaller monomers to form larger molecules, as Erny described.
The resulting plastic will be stronger and denser the more monomers are mixed. For instance, the polymerization process must be done up to 10,000 times for a material to be strong enough to serve as a vessel.
Erny continued, “This is why the molecular weight is quite large and tough for bacteria to feed”.
The plastics business actually consumes the least amount of energy, despite the attention it receives for its contribution to environmental pollution. Compared to the industrial processing of metal (13.9 KWH), glass, and even paper, processing of plastic uses far less energy, just about 3.1 KWH. This is the reason why industry prefers and produces plastic on a massive scale.
The issue with using plastic, according to Erny, is not the substance itself but rather how to handle plastic before it ends up in the ocean.
Insufficient Waste Management
The culture of garbage disposal in Indonesia is still a source of worry, according to Sri Gratissari, chair of the Indonesia Solid Waste Association (InSWA). Sri said, “Japan had a legislation on waste management 100 years ago, and Singapore had one 40 years ago. We only had one in 2008.”
Erny claims that the capacity of the insenerataor (waste management for waste power plants) that will be built at the Bantargebang TPA is still significantly below what is needed. So, this technological part must be developed from upstream to downstream. The key is to boost the proportion of TPSAs (temporary trash disposal sites) that are operated in a contemporary manner.
There is currently an effort to begin reducing plastic use due to the complicated issue of plastic trash. Can it be done?
Should we return to using metal, wood, or paper as our primary materials? Also keep in mind that producing paper requires the same amount of tree-cutting as producing paper. “What we need to do is use plastic responsibly by putting what we’ve all learned about reduce, reuse, and recycle into practice,” Erny said.
But until a material that can replace plastic exists, its excellence will be difficult to match. Indeed, a number of young academics from Indonesia are looking for alternatives to plastic. Erny laments the failure of the industry to adopt substitute items for plastic on a significant scale.
Some people have even brought up a brand-new problem, called microplastics, which are small pieces of plastic that quickly break down and contaminate the soil.
Kevin Kumala, the creator of the biodegradable plastic firm Avani Eco, agrees. She claims that using plastic replacement items won’t fix the issue. In addition to having a small market, biodegradable plastic is substantially more expensive than regular plastic.
“Collaboration is therefore required to solve the plastic challenge. By using the phrase reduce, reuse, and recycle with replacement, we are attempting to find a solution. A fresh round of ammo will be substituted to address plastic waste,” said Kevin.
Kevin asserts that every initiative, no matter how tiny, can have an impact, and will grow into a significant movement. Little actions do have a significant impact. This can reduce plastic waste, beginning with garbage. Saying no to plastic straws at a cafe, for instance, can kick off a campaign against plastic consumption.
“I think it will have a significant impact if this is done going forward. From there, we want to reduce the amount of plastic we use on a daily basis and contribute to making the nation cleaner and greener,” he said.
Plastic still has a high market value, nevertheless. Plastic waste could be prevented from ending up in the ocean if only it were properly controlled. As a result, high-value recycled items include anything from polyester clothing fibers to kitchen utensils and containers.
There are some tips for using plastic wisely:
1. Beautify the trash bin.
Make the trash bin in the kitchen more attractive as well as the living room and garden. Every day, clean the bin just like you would other equipment.
2. Get Appropriate Waste Sorting Skills.
The proper separation of trash is not based on organic and inorganic components, but rather on the type of material: plastic, organic, paper, glass, and metal.
3. Develop a Recycling Culture
Learn how to create biopori, or your own compost from organic waste, which you can do in your yard. That manner, the final disposal (TPA) will only receive plastic and non-organic waste. Reducing this organic trash can ease the pressure on landfills significantly. The findings show that organic household garbage made up 48% of the waste at the Bantar Gebang TPA. 15% of garbage is plastic.