Nusa Lembongan is one of the hidden gems of Bali Province. An outlying island nestled that is often overlooked in favor of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan offers truly breathtaking white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue waters, and a super relaxed atmosphere. For those seeking real island vibes, Nusa Lembongan is the place to visit.
Though the squeaky clean image of the island has not always been the norm, just over five years ago, Nusa Lembongan had a serious waste problem. Thanks to a community-based recycling initiative Nusa Lembongan has not only turned its image around but its fortunes too.
Nusa Lembongan is now home to the Lembongan Recycling Centre (LRC). The facility is managed by the community, which is, in large part, the reason for its success. The facility collects garbage from communities, residential areas, homes, and businesses at set points across the island twice a day.
Once at the facility, waste is separated into recyclables, non-recyclable and organic waste. Recyclable materials such as plastic, glass, metal, and paper are sorted out and then put through a compaction process ready to be sold.
The Lembongan Recycling Centre has not only helped to change the island’s public image and tackle the province’s mounting waste problem but has also boosted the economy. The facility and its services give community members an incentive to properly manage their waste.
The founder of the charity Bali Children’s Foundation, Margaret Barry, spoke to reporters about the impact the project is having. Bali Children’s Foundation is one of several non-profit entities that supports LRC. Barry said, “The mangroves were cleaned of metal, including old boat engines and motorbikes, when locals discovered the metal had value.” The regeneration of the mangrove ecosystem is vital in tackling climate change. Back in Bali, mangrove reforestation projects were a key topic of conversation at the G20 Summit back in November.
Nusa Lembongan has a residential population of around 8,000 people. Traditionally the community-based economy revolved around fishing and seaweed farming. As is the case with so many parts of Bali, Nusa Lembongan’s steady transitions and tourism have become the island’s biggest earner. While the profits are positive, the environmental impact of tourism quickly made its presence known in Nusa Lembongan. Inorganic waste from the hospitality sector began piling and permeating the island’s stunning lances.
Initially the brainchild of a local resident, Pilot, the LRC started out as a simple waste sorting facility on his land. Quickly realizing that greater capacity was needed, Pilot and his team opened themselves up to support from the outside.
The LRC, in its present form, was created with help from a group of non-profits, including Bali Hope, Friends of Lembongan, and the aforementioned Bali Children’s Foundation. Local businesses, including hotels and restaurants, also contributed to the capital needed to get LRC up and running more formally.
The owner of Ohana, Mitchell Ansiewicz, one of the island’s biggest tourism facilities, told reporters that the collaborative and community approach is what makes the LRC a resounding success. Ansiewicz explained, “with the LRC, there’s been good participation from the ex-pat and the local community. When the forces come together, capital and labor, it made a monumental difference to the cleanliness of the island.”
LRC is now expanding once again. Late last year, the project launched a small permaculture garden that is also run by the community. There is also an aerobic composting facility that utilizes organic waste. The garden now produces everything from eggplant to garlic, onion, ginger, and beyond. Naturally, being a small island, food security is a very real issue for the local community. An issue that was amplified during the pandemic.
Putu, who is the manager of LRC, explained, “We are trying to provide direction and understanding to the community to sort waste from their homes and even provide reciprocity in the form of economic value to stimulate the community in handling waste.”
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