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Indonesia Learns from Japan’s Solid Waste Management Sector

Participants leaning about waste sorting and recycling at Tusumi Plant_Yokohama

Participants learning about waste sorting and recycling at Tsurumi Plant, Yokohama.

Story highlights

  • The World Bank’s Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC), in collaboration with the Indonesia Local Service Delivery and Improvement Project (LSDP) task team, organized a five-day exposure mission to Japan for Indonesian government officials to immerse themselves in Japanese best practices in urban solid waste management initiatives.
  • Japanese cities have been successfully managing their waste in coordination with the national government through meticulous planning, adoption of circular approaches, and the application of sustainable solutions.
  • Japanese case studies of solid waste management in Yokohama and Kitakyushu City enticed the Indonesian delegation to seek more knowledge about Japan’s seamless waste management practices and engage with various stakeholders, especially citizens and the private sector.


September 25-29, 2023

Solid waste management is a priority sector for Indonesian cities. 

Japan has been a frontrunner in the solid waste management sector for many decades. Careful planning, organization of the resources, engagement of citizens and private sector, coordination among stakeholders, futuristic vision, and focus on financial and environmentally sustainable solutions are some of the aspects that set Japanese cities apart from other countries. 

With this knowledge, the Government of Indonesia, which is preparing the Indonesia Local Service Delivery Improvement Project (LSDP) with the World Bank, was keen on learning from Japanese experiences and know-how on waste management. The project supports upstream waste management including waste generation, transport, transfer, recycling and intermediate treatment. Specifically, the Government of Indonesia showed interest in learning about the engagement of citizens and private sector partners and waste segregation, collection, and recycling methodologies of Japanese cities. 

Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) in consultation with its City Partnership Program (CPP) partners organized an exposure mission for its Indonesian clients to learn from Yokohama and Kitakyushu’s waste management practices. TDLC welcomed to Japan the delegation of ten officials led by Kastorius Sinaga, Special Staff to the Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA), along with the World Bank Task Team from September 25-29, 2023. The delegation comprised representatives from various ministries of Indonesia, including MOHA, Maritime and Investment Affairs, National Development Planning, and Environment and Forestry. 

Japan adopts comprehensive approach towards waste management.  

Japan has taken a decentralized approach towards its waste management. Municipalities autonomously make decisions to manage their waste under the overall aegis of national policies and regulations. An active strategy adopted in the 1990s, the strategy focuses on decoupling the waste generation from increasing GDP, and engagement and coordination with stakeholders, especially citizens and the private sector. By the 2000s, a reduction in waste generation and increasing recycling rates helped drive the nation towards sustainable waste management. While 80 percent of waste is still incinerated, a large chunk of the remaining waste is recycled, leaving only one percent going to landfills. A solid legal framework for waste management policy is the backbone of this approach. Having a strong vision, clear demarcation of roles, and enhanced capacities of stakeholders are other factors of success in moving from a linear to circular economy in the waste management sector.        

Yokohama City – A case of waste recycling and treatment initiatives

Yokohama city, the largest municipality in Japan, with a population of 3.77 million covering an area of 438 sq. km, provides an interesting case study on metropolitan level waste management for many large cities in developing countries. Yokohama city incinerates most of its waste using four incineration plants spread across the metropolis. 

Clients from Indonesia had the opportunity to visit Tsurumi Incineration Plant, which uses stoker type technology to burn the waste. The clients witnessed the process of how waste collected from households and businesses are brought to the plant for incineration, which in turn generates electricity. Using three stoker type incinerators of 400 tons/day of capacity each, this refuse treatment plant generates 22 megawatts (MW) of electricity every day.  The Indonesian delegation was also able to witness the role of the private sector in waste management during their site visit to a Plastic Recycling Plant operated by J&T Recycling Corporation where they learned about the recycling of plastics for use in the construction of rainwater storage tanks. J&T Recycling Corporation is commissioned by the city to collect waste plastic discarded by households, turn it into a plastic bale, and transport it to government run recycling companies, thus providing integrated recycling business solutions through integrated logistics and waste recycling management. 

Kitakyushu City – Exemplifies waste management lifecycle

Kitakyushu offers an exemplary story of waste reduction and management – from collection up to final disposal. TDLC clients visited one of the city’s 33,000 garbage collection points to see how waste is segregated by households and kept at a common pick-up point for collection trucks. City waste segregation policy consists of segregating waste into 15 types or 21 categories – demonstrating a strong commitment by the citizens. Clients visited Kogasaki Plant, one of the three waste treatment facilities, which is a highly automated operation systems with computer control, including automatic weighing of waste, the automatic functioning of the crane and the incinerator. The delegation also visited Eco-Town, established in 1997 as a high-tech recycling center and state-of-the-art Energy Park, that aims to combine industry promotion and environmental conservation to establish a resource circulating society. Private sector support is the cornerstone of Eco Town Center’s success in promoting zero emissions. The delegation’s next stop was Kitakyushu Plastic Recycling Center, where they observed the efficient and advanced operations of recycling facilities, minimizing waste volume to treatment plants and disposal sites, and the final use of recycled material. While The center is highly mechanized, waste is also manually and mechanically sorted into recyclable cans, glass, and plastic bottles, milk cartons and food trays from what is separately collected from households. In April 2014, the city of Kitakyushu shifted from the conventional method of waste dumping to a floating pattern method, where the generation of dust and odors is controlled by unloading waste directly into the water, with any deterioration of water quality inside the site controlled at the final stages when waste is landfilled across a wide and shallow area on the sea surface. Mr. Kazuhisa Takeuchi, Mayor of Kitakyushu, received the delegation in his office and extended his support to strengthening the collaboration.

Participants’ Key Takeaways:

Participants engaged in collecting segregated garbage_Kitakyushu
Participants engaged in collecting segregated garbage from a collection point in Kitakyushu.

"We would like to manage the waste systems from national level down to grassroot level to bring about paradigm shift in waste management sector, using global practices." – Kastorius Sinaga, MOHA


  • The delegation was impressed by the well-coordinated functionality and scale of the waste management facilities and were determined to plan and develop sustainable, efficient, long-lasting waste management infrastructure and practices themselves. 
  • An important takeaway was to not be short-sighted when it comes to waste management but rather to focus on reforms and long-term planning, by developing policies and regulations as a solid base for sustainability for service delivery.  

  • This exposure mission was a great convening platform for participants from different ministries, helping to laying the foundation of interagency coordination.  

  • Kitakyushu and Yokohama cities exhibited how waste segregation at its source is a very important step. Clients took away strategies on education and communication for encouraging behavioral changes to this end. 

  • The mission showcased how independent operations of municipalities efficiently support waste management, helping the delegation representing different ministries learned from the institutional structuring and regulatory frameworks that could be applied to the Indonesian context.

About TDLC

As a knowledge hub on urban development, TDLC uses Japanese knowledge and experiences and curate customized solutions to the clients, under the operational support component of their program. TDLC is committed to inform the projects at various stages – preparation, implementation, monitoring & supervision – and support the developing country clients in increasing their knowledge base in urban sectors, including solid waste management.