The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
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Law Report: Indonesia

Waste Pickers in Indonesia


The ‘pemulung’ or waste pickers of Indonesia play a critical role in municipal solid waste management and contribute to a large trade in recycling of waste products.

Size and Significance

Nearly two million people work as ‘Pemulung’ or waste pickers in Indonesia and are engaged in collecting and recycling plastics, metal and cardboard.

Working Conditions

Pemulung’s live and work in very poor conditions. Many of them even live on dump sites in shelters made from the waste they collect. Pemulung are the first rung in the recycling trade chain which consists of the ‘bos lapak’ ,’bandar’ and ‘supplier’. The ‘bos lapak’ employs about 15 pemulung’s and share patron-client relationship with the. He also provides for their legal and social security as well as health insurance. The supplier who is at the top of the rung of the recycling trade has access to credit, finances the ‘bos lapak’, who in turn provides loans to the pemulung.


Most workers earn approximately Rp 10,000 a day, and between Rp 50,000 and Rp 80,000 per week as subcontract workers.

Law and Policy

In 1999, the waste management system in Indonesia transformed as decentralization was introduced. Prior to this, the institutional design was chaotic with several departments and ministries being in charge of solid waste management. The new model of management, introduced by the Presidential Decree No. 2/2002, envisaged a greater responsibility for local bodies, with the central government acting as a regulator.

The new National Waste Management Law No. 18/ 2008 has been recently issued by the Government of Indonesian and it outlines the municipal solid waste management system for the country. Further Industrial Waste in Indonesia is regulated by Law No. 32/2009 for Industrial Waste.

Organisation and Voice

NGOs such as the Danone Fund and Dinamika Indonesia Foundation are working for the welfare of waste pickers and their children.




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