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Law Report: Indonesia – Waste Pickers in Indonesia

Year of Publication


The article outlines the Indonesian waste management law which impacts the the livelihood of waste pickers in Indonesia.


The International Alliance of Waste Pickers






Purpose of Measurement:

Understanding the Problem, Solution Sets and Impact Potential

Impact theme(s):

Livelihoods, Gender, Policy

The ‘pemulung’ or waste pickers of Indonesia play a critical role in municipal solid waste management and contribute to a large trade in recycling of waste products. Nearly two million people work as ‘Pemulung’ or waste pickers in Indonesia and are engaged in collecting and recycling plastics, metal and cardboard. Pemulung’s live and work in very poor conditions. Many of them even live on dump sites in shelters made from the waste they collect. Pemulung are the first rung in the recycling trade chain which consists of the ‘bos lapak’ ,’bandar’ and ‘supplier’. The ‘bos lapak’ employs about 15 pemulung’s and share patron-client relationship with the. He also provides for their legal and social security as well as health insurance. The supplier who is at the top of the rung of the recycling trade has access to credit, finances the ‘bos lapak’, who in turn provides loans to the pemulung. Most workers earn approximately Rp 10,000 a day, and between Rp 50,000 and Rp 80,000 per week as subcontract workers. In 1999, the waste management system in Indonesia transformed as decentralization was introduced. Prior to this, the institutional design was chaotic with several departments and ministries being in charge of solid waste management. The new model of management, introduced by the Presidential Decree No. 2/2002, envisaged a greater responsibility for local bodies, with the central government acting as a regulator. The new National Waste Management Law No. 18/ 2008 has been recently issued by the Government of Indonesia and it outlines the municipal solid waste management system for the country.
The report outlines this waste management law which impacts the the livelihood of waste pickers in Indonesia.

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