Post B: Bank Sampah Gemah Ripah “The Prosperous Trash Bank”

As Indonesia experiences rapid urbanisation, population growth and household consumption rates increase, much more solid waste is created. As it is not sustainable for household waste to be burnt or dumped into landfill, Waste Banks are finding a more eco-friendly system for peoples waste management.

The concept behind Bank Sampah Gemah Ripah started in 2008 with Mr. Bambang Suwerda, a lecturer in the Environmental Health faculty at the Polytechnic University of Yogyakarta. The concept of Waste Banks was developed to address the environmental issues caused by waste produced by local communities (Ashoka n.d.).

The main purpose of Bank Sampah is to create a cleaner environment, which leads to a healthier environment. It focuses on the three R principle of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” as well as the philosophy behind the Indonesian expression “Gemah Ripah Tablets Jinawi” simply translating to “the prosperity and fertility of the land and its people” (Stevens: Schmidgall-Tellings 2004).

By developing a system using economic incentives, Bambang Suwerda has introduced a system of waste management that ensures participating households have sustainable waste separation practices that lead to environmental benefits for the local community as well as financial benefits for the household.

By adopting a system implemented by conventional banks, Bank Sampah is able to function as a traditional bank but with a unique difference. The Bank Sampah gives monetary value to household trash in efforts to encourage people to be responsible for their own waste management (Salim 2013).

Weighing waste (Bank Sampah, 2008)

The non for profit organisation functions with no cash box, using scales to weigh and value the customers waste donation, which is then put into sacks and stored in a warehouse (Slamet, 2009). Waste donations are collected from customers and either sold to appropriate buyers or used to make handicrafts. The Waste Bank takes 15% of revenue, which contribute to the operation and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure. Remaining revenue is deposited into the customers “Waste Bank savings account”, which they can withdraw from every three months, creating an economic incentive for customers to sort and donate their household waste (Diegenetika 2013).

Handicraft workers source recyclable plastic from the donated household waste to design and create bags and wallets, which are then sold.

(Desa Wisata Sidoakur, 2009)
Bags made from recycled waste (Desa Wisata Sidoakur, 2009)

Bambang’s Waste Bank has had success with involving members of community in responsible waste management, which has lead to the Ministry of Environment in Indonesia to adopt and replicate the model nationwide. Although this concept has been successful in reducing landfill and encouraging households to become more sustainable, it does not encourage behavioural change in the purchasing and sourcing of food. More education and community involvement is needed to be able to assist households with becoming more sustainable in aspects other than just sorting their waste.


Ashoka n.d., Bambang Suwerda, United States, viewed 12 April 2015, <>

Bank Sampah 2008, Weighing garbage, then recorded on the passbook, Flickr, viewed 13 April 2015, <>

Desa Wisata Sidoakur 2009, Kerajinan Dari Sampah Daur Ulang, Indonesia, viewed 13 April 2015, <>
Diegenetika 2013, Bank Sampah Gemah Ripah, Bank Sampah Bantul, Bambang Suwerda Indonesia, 12 April 2015, <>

Salim, R. 2013, Waste Not, Want Not : “Waste Banks” in Indonesia, World Bank Blogs, Indonesia, viewed 12 April 2015, <>

Slamet, S. 2009, Banking on the Environment, The Jakarta Post, Bantul Indonesia, viewed 12 April 2015, <>

Stevens, A.: Schmidgall-Tellings, A. 2004, Kamus Lengkap Indonesia-Inggris, Ohio University Press, Ohio, USA.

2 thoughts on “Post B: Bank Sampah Gemah Ripah “The Prosperous Trash Bank”

  1. Genuinely enjoyed reading this! It was very clearly written and the topic of the waste banks is very interesting. I’m glad to hear it’s been a success and is being spread throughout Indo!

  2. I believe projects such as this are invaluable as they help to combat two main identifiers of third world countries: poverty (financial) and hygiene (waste). It is interesting to note that despite having the financial power and capabilities to produce an initiative such as this, it is those actually living within the Indonesian community who can best respond to a design problem.

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