Waste-for-groceries bazaar at the Porsea subdistrict chief office in Porsea, Toba, North Sumatra on Aug. 10, 2022. (Photo Courtesy of Danone-AQUA)

Porsea Residents Exchange Waste for Groceries

AUGUST 10, 2022

Jakarta. The residents of Porsea, a subdistrict in Toba, North Sumatra, on Wednesday exchanged waste for groceries in a bazaar taking place at the subdistrict chief office.

This waste-for-groceries bazaar attracted a large crowd of Porsea residents. Once they had the trash weighed, the people would receive coupons that were exchangeable for groceries. The bazaar managed to collect tons of waste. An Environment Agency truck then took the pile of trash to the Bank Sampah Induk Tarhilala waste bank in Balige.

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Chatryn Siahaan was one of the Porsea residents who brought bags of trash from her home and office to the event. The 31-year-old mother of three works as an honorary employee at the Toba Environmental Agency.

“I have collected and sorted the waste [that I took] from my home and the office. So I can exchange them for eggs for my kids,” Chathryn said.

The bazaar event was a collaboration between bottled water company Danone-AQUA, Bank Sampah Induk Tarhilala, the Toba government, as well as the district’s environmental agency.

According to Porsea subdistrict chief Robert Manurung, the bazaar becomes a great opportunity to encourage the residents to always sort their waste and not throw them into the river, lake, behind their homes or the vicinity.

“Hopefully, after the [bazaar], the Porsea residents have developed a habit of properly managing their waste,” Robert said. 

“Please hand over whatever trash that you have to us. We will have the waste delivered to the Bank Sampah Induk Tarhilala in Balige. This would help prevent floods and maintain cleanliness, while also giving extra income to the family. Don’t ever get tired or embarrassed to collect waste,” Robert said.

Danone-AQUA and Bank Sampah Induk Tarhilala have teamed up to help the government implement integrated waste management to address the waste problems, particularly in the “super priority” tourist destinations such as Toba. 

“Danone-AQUA pledged to manage the waste in Toba district on the National Waste Awareness Day on Feb. 21, 2022. We then realized the commitment by working together with Bank Sampah Induk Tarhilala to manage waste since March,” Annie Wahyuni, the downstream packaging manager at Danone Indonesia, said.

According to Annie, the integrated waste management program in Toba primarily encompasses two subprograms. The first is the “Sampahku, Tanggung Jawabku” (‘My Waste, My Responsibility’) waste education program in primary schools. The second is getting people to collect and sort their waste through the development of waste banks.

To date, Bank Sampah Induk Tarhilala has reached 46 villages in four subdistricts, namely Laguboti, Silaen, Sigumpar, and Porsea. 

Bank Sampah Induk Tarhilala started out educating people in the villages about the need of collecting and sorting their waste. This includes forming waste bank units.

“The bazaar is to get the Toba residents to develop a habit of collecting, sorting, and taking their waste to the waste banks, thereby reducing the waste that pollutes the environment,” Fei Febri, who initiated the Bank Sampah Induk Tarhilala, said. 

Earlier this year, similar waste-for-groceries took place in Laguboti and Balige.

“We hope we can reach people in other subdistricts so there will be more waste bank units in Toba,” Fei said.

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