Bambang Suwerda

Ashoka Fellow
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Fellow Since 2010


This profile was prepared when Bambang Suwerda was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Bambang is working with communities to establish “waste banks” that serve as community-based recovery facilities. Waste banks collect materials from clients and resell them to the appropriate buyers. Moreover, the revenue is added to the client’s “waste bank savings account,” thus creating an economic incentive for individuals and households to collect and recycle waste. In addition to reselling materials, many waste banks also operate as recycling business units, in which they convert recyclables and sell them as usable products (e.g. conversion of plastic packaging waste into handicrafts).

Bambang’s efforts have not only reduced the waste stream that is dumped into garbage disposal sites, but has also eliminated illegal dumping and created additional job opportunities. In an effort to create generational change and alter mindsets, Bambang targets young people and asks parents to register their waste banks accounts in their child’s name. He is also working with schools to increase youth participation by integrating waste management practices among students at an early age. As success of Bambang’s Gemah Ripah Waste Bank model has grown, the Ministry of Environment in Indonesia has adopted and replicated the model nationwide. Bambang is focusing on standardizing the requirements and procedures for operating waste banks and has created the Waste Bank National Training Center. The organization is expected to ensure the quality of his model, create an opportunity for collective marketing, serve as a training module that covers important topics such as exploring the business behind composting, as well as setting standards around waste collection.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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