One of my reports last semester was investigating relationship between a waste disposal and people. This report was an assignment of Sustainability and Habitability course. Therefore, by doing small research about a place and people using that place, we were hoped could generate recommendation in relation to sustainability and habitability issues.
It might sound very strange anyway making report investigating between a waste disposal and people using it, since no one wants to have contact with waste disposal. But, I chose this topic because I assumed that there is always a contact and relationship between place and people, even a waste disposal and people, and I was very sure that there should be interesting outcomes of this investigation. Another reason is that waste disposal issues are always big issues in my country, Indonesia. The main factor of that is poor management. Therefore, by doing this small investigation, I hoped I could find ideas of how to well manage this ‘dirty and smelly place’.
I chose Lucas Heights 1 as my study location because this waste disposal is one of the oldest waste disposals in Australia which has been operated since 1966. In fact, this is the oldest one in State of New South Wales (NSW). However, increasing of the population of NSW has been pushed the state government to find waste disposals other than Lucas Heights 1 to accommodate the increasing of the rubbish production. Later on, several waste disposals were founded and operated. Having realized that landfills create serious impacts to the environment, which contribute significantly to the green house effect, ideas about reducing waste transported to the landfill then becomes another significant issue. Later on, Australia is well known in relation with the waste recycling. Recently the issue about minimization and recycling is put in the Sydney Metropolitan Strategy, City of Cities, as part of the environmental conservation program.
Based on the contract signed by the operator, which is Waste Service NSW (WSN), and the state government, the operator was allowed to operate Lucas Heights 1 as the landfill until 1987. Since 1987, Lucas Heights 1 was closed and has not received the rubbish anymore. All the activities taken by WSN were rehabilitation and re-contouring of the site. The future plan of this landfill is formulating it become a sporting recreational area which will be completed in 2011. The fund needed is from the levy given by the operator. This levy is the contribution from another new landfill operated by WSN. In other word, WSN operates another landfill called Lucas Heights 2 besides Lucas Heights 1. The levy gained by WSN from operation of Lucas Heights 2 will be contributed to the improvement and development of Lucas Heights 1 to be a recreational area. The fund given by the operator then is managed by the local government in order to achieve that future plan.
By understanding this fact, it sounds very easy to change a waste disposal to be a recreational area. If the function of a landfill in the future is changeable, why there should be a strong voice to oppose against the development of a landfill? In fact, the existence of waste disposals will always be important since not all the rubbish can be diminished by recycling process.
Conversing dirty smelly waste disposals to be useful sustainable place is actually not only happening in Australia. The idea has been run by many developed countries, including United States. To change a landfill becomes a park or a recreational area needs certain technology and good management. Sanitary landfill is the perfect kind of landfill to be able to be changed. However, most waste disposals in Indonesia are still open dumping landfills without certain high-tech process like what is happening in sanitary landfill. Besides, organizations chosen to operate landfills should be the ones who have lots of experiences and excellent as well as full responsible people to create good management.
We, Indonesian people, often think that money is always the case. Lack of government funding becomes the root of the problems. But, I strongly argue that money is not always the case. Partnerships between governments and private sectors, in many cases, are very brilliant ideas. Private sectors can provide funds, and in another side, the government can provide strong and clear regulation.