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Masaro Polybag Farming Movement for 50% Reduction of Waste to Landfill

  • Date:
    19 Feb 2021
  • Author:

Since the 1980s, Indonesia has adhered to the “Collect – Transport – Discard” waste management pattern, in which waste from residents is collected at a temporary shelter using garbage carts; then the waste from the temporary shelter is transported to the landfill by truck. Generally speaking, the piling garbage at the landfill looks dirty, smelly, and causes environmental pollution. Usually, many scavengers at temporary shelters and landfills hunt for recyclable/reusable materials such as plastic, metal, paper, and glass. This waste management model is generally carried out by the regional government and currently is only able to manage around 36% of Indonesia’s total waste, which amounts to approximately 70 million tons per year. In contrast, the rest of the waste is burned, piled up, thrown into the river, and so on.


This pattern is now facing quite a tough challenge because many landfills ​​are almost full, making it very difficult to find new ones. Improvement efforts to extend the life of the landfill have been made, among others, by making it a final waste processing site, for example, by adopting PLTSa (waste power plant) and RDF (refuse-derived fuel). The two technologies are still considered expensive; the starting and operational costs are high, while the electricity and fuel produced have not been able to cover these costs. It is a fact that not many local governments can afford the huge costs, making this solution difficult to implement. This is because the waste that is handled is a mixture of organic and inorganic waste, which has a very high water content (can be above 60%), so that a lot of energy is wasted for the evaporation of this water and the overall energy content of the waste becomes negative.


On the commemoration of National Waste Care Day, hopefully we all can reflect on how big the problem of garbage we have; how landfills are very problematic as they have claimed many lives. One example is the Leuwi Gajah tragedy several years ago where there was an explosion and collapse of the mountain of garbage at the landfill. This explosion must have come from organic waste that turned into gas due to the decomposition process in a clogged pile of garbage. Therefore, apart from contemplating the incident, we also need to think about finding alternative solutions so that this problem can be resolved properly and we can be free from waste and landfill problems. Here, I will present ​​alternative waste management that is different from the above pattern, namely through the Masaro Polybag Farming movement to drastically diminish sending organic waste to the landfill so that the amount of waste input can be reduced by around 50%. Why so? This is because the amount of organic waste represents about 50 – 70% of the total waste, according to statistics.


Masaro Polybag Farming and LBHP

Maybe not many people know the term Masaro. It’s a term that we have popularized in connection with waste management activities in several villages and sub-districts in West Java.


Masaro provides guidance for the formulation of planting media in the form of 4321; a planting medium consisting of soil, organic waste, animal manure, and rice husk charcoal with a successive volume ratio of 4: 3: 2: 1. It begins by putting organic waste at the bottom of the polybag then followed by a mixture of 3 other growing media, or the four ingredients are mixed from the start and poured with Masaro mixture. After that, the planting medium is left for one week so that the composting process and cooling of the planting medium occur. Vegetable and fruit seedlings can then be planted and cared for with POCI Masaro.


This Masaro polybag farming system has three advantages over hydroponic systems:

  • It does not cost much, so that everyone can do it.
  • It can help to clean up the environment because the planting medium contains at least 30% organic waste.
  • As the nature of organic agriculture, it is understood to be healthier than chemical agriculture.


Therefore, Masaro polybag farming can be used as a mass movement in villages and sub-districts for waste processing, reforestation, and agriculture for food security, even for family commercial businesses.


In the Masaro system, organic waste is divided into two; organic waste that decomposes easily and organic waste that is difficult to decompose. This is done to adjust the processing process with Masaro technology. There are three models of organic waste processing that can be applied easily, cheaply, and neatly, namely:

  • Perishable waste is processed into POCI (Special Liquid Organic Fertilizer) and KOCI (Special Liquid Organic Concentrate) using Masaro ITB technology. This processing produces a very high added value to the product. It can raise the agricultural, livestock, and fishery sectors so that it has a broad impact on the community’s welfare.
  • The waste that is difficult to decompose is made into Masaro compost using Masaro ITB technology. The other composting process is usually long, dirty, and requires a lot of energy to turn the waste and aeration. With Masaro ITB technology, composting is fast, easy, energy-efficient, and does not need aeration. Thus Masaro compost can be made easily in every house and becomes an added value for the residents of each house.
  • Organic waste, both hard and easy to decompose, is used as a growing medium in Masaro Polybag Farming. With this Masaro pattern, organic waste from the kitchen and yard can be directly put into the bottom of the polybag and immediately flushed or sprayed with Masaro’s POCI solution for fast and odorless composting. After the waste reaches the volume of 1/3 polybag, it is mixed on top of other planting media consisting of soil, animal manure, and rice husk charcoal. The composition of the planting medium follows the 4321 formula, as described above.


We usually carry out the waste processing model number 3 in the Productive and Green Clean Environment (LBHP) programs such as in Cileunyi Kulon Village and Pasawahan Village, Bandung Regency. This program can use up all the organic waste in the environment; even when there is a shortage, extra organic waste from the nearest market can always be used. This means that the LBHP program can reduce waste to the landfill by around 50 – 70%, a very high reduction rate. Besides, residents’ houses and yards will be filled with polybag farming which is very useful for reforesting and fulfilling residents’ food needs. Several villages and sub-districts have even made polybag farming programs regularly by mapping their areas into neighborhood groups based on what they grow; chili, kale, tomato, greens, etc. This encourages a symbiosis of mutualism to exchange commodities between houses. This fact has made community relations better and eliminated the estrangements that usually result from a lack of friendship between neighbors.


Masaro ITB technology has advantages in terms of the ease and speed of the composting process compared to other technologies. It can be done in homes, parks, and roadside green areas directly on the site without having to throw organic waste into a landfill or other remote place. The products can be used directly for re-enriching the land in that location. It is convenient and will have an impact on improving environmental cleanliness.


The combination of organic waste processing models 2 and 3 has actually been able to use up all organic waste in villages and sub-districts in an environmentally friendly and productive manner. Of course, this method is not burdensome to residents but instead benefits them, especially in reforestation efforts as well as meeting food needs. Even so, the implementation of the LBHP program must begin with good socialization and education, including technical guidance and monitoring and evaluation to maintain the movement of residents in all villages and sub-districts. Mobilizing cadres at the neighborhood levels are also very much needed; thus, encouragement from the village and sub-district governments is urgently needed.


This process is usually carried out in IPPO (Fertilizer and Organic Feed Industry). It does not need to be established in every village and sub-district, but it would be enough at the sub-district level or even at the district or city level. It is sufficient to establish a Masaro POCI SIUL (Refill Station) to distribute and fulfill needs in every village and sub-district. This can be managed as a profitable business to be carried out by village-owned enterprises (BUMDES) or cooperatives so that organic waste can create an excellent circular economic activity.


Author: Akhmad Zainal Abidin, Head of the ITB Polymer and Membrane Technology Laboratory