Post C: Waste Deep

Political and economic interactions have become a cross-cultural norm, in a growingly interconnected and interdependent world, opening the floodgates to exploitation and corruption. As consumers we play a critical role in this process as we purchase products that contribute to this devastating reality. The true effects of economic globalisation and exploitation protrude beneath the exterior and have destructive and dehumanising effects. Anna Sutanto, an Indonesian waste manager, reflects on how the ‘bank sampah’ (waste bank) initiatives in Indonesia, have been “technically successfully”, yet a “challenge in finding a market for compost production and products made of waste.” The waste bank works in a way that it separates waste into two fields, organic and inorganic. Organic waste gets turned into compost and inorganic waste is separated to a  further three categories, plastic, metal and glass which are weighed and given a monetary value, based on rates set by waste collectors (Salim, 2013). In Gunung Samarinda a waste bank collects over 2-3 tons of non-organic solid waste each month, with  each household managing to save about 50,000 rupiah a month (Salim, 2013). “Whilst successful, this does little to encourage behaviour change amongst consumers,” reflects Sutanto, creating a cyclical effect of globalised consumption and waste.

Waste sorting system at the waste bank
Waste sorting system at the waste bank

Traditionally Indonesian culture was focused on a  localised production and hence sustainable philosophy, now the “import culture and products are overwhelming to the waste issue that Indonesia faces” (2015, pers. comm., A. Sutanto). Waste management is not only a personal but collective responsibility, an issue facing countries worldwide as global consumer consumption behaviours increase. Cultural behaviour towards waste and its management has been inundated since the increase of globalisation. Within these cross cultural relationships, in relation to waste disposal and management, sources of conflict are often difficult to identify due to unconscious attitudes, beliefs and norms (Bird 2005). Conflict arises in the struggle between corporate and consumer, urban and regional, and government and people. Identifying the need for initiatives to combat these events is the responsibility of not only a select few but  collective identity of a global society.

‘Waste Deep’ is a short documentary produced by Australian company Sustainable Table, an innovative not-for-profit organisation that empowers people to use their shopping dollar to vote for a food system that is fair, humane, healthy and good for the environment (SustainTable 2014). Waste Deep explores the effects of plastic packaging from food consumption, proposing methods of reduction and alternative consumption habits to educate consumers. It is the entire culture surrounding waste management and consumption extending beyond a localised context, to a globalised and detrimental effect, that filters down to countries such as Indonesia as they adopt a more westernised diet (Permani, 2006) and struggle to cope with the issue of waste as a result at hand.

<p><a href=”″>WASTE DEEP</a> from <a href=””>SustainTable</a&gt; on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

References in Text:
Salim, R., 2013, Waste Not, Want Not : “Waste Banks” in Indonesia, The World Bank:IBRD-IDA, East Asia and Pacific, viewed 30 April 2015, < >

Bird A., 2005, Making Sense of Intercultural Collaboration, International Studies of Management & Organization, Vol. 35 Issue 4, p115-132. 18p, viewed 29 April 2015, < >

SustainTable, 2014, Waste Deep, documentary, vimeo, viewed 30 April 2015, < >

Permani, R., 2006, Rethinking Indonesia’s beef self-sufficiency agenda, Inside Indonesia, Indonesia, viewed 30 April 2015, < >

Reference Image:
Salim, R., 2013, Waste Not, Want Not : “Waste Banks” in Indonesia, The World Bank:IBRD-IDA, East Asia and Pacific, viewed 30 April 2015, < >

SustainTable, 2014, Waste Deep, documentary, vimeo, viewed 30 April 2015, < >

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