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Every year on February 21, Indonesia celebrates National Waste Awareness Day. This occasion serves as an opportunity to improve public awareness of the importance of sustainable waste management and its critical role in preserving the environment and public health.

National Waste Awareness Day provides a platform for reflection on the adverse effects of improper waste management on the environment and daily life. The choice of February 21 holds special significance as it marks a tragic day in Indonesia where 157 people lost their lives due to improper waste management.

At 2:00 A.M. on Monday, February 21, 2005, an explosion rang out, changing the lives of thousands in Cimahi City in West Java forever. The Leuwigajah Cimahi Final Processing Site housed a rubbish mountain 200 m long and 60 m high, which, when disturbed by heavy rain, methane gas produced by the mounds of trash and trapped inside triggered a major explosion. The explosion turned into a landslide of trash, which swept away two villages and claimed the lives of 157 people. Now, this date serves as a moment for reflection and a collective commitment to addressing waste-related issues.

To increase awareness on National Waste Awareness Day, seminars, workshops, and social campaigns are employed to engage the public directly. Many focus on the negative impacts of waste on the environment and health. These adverse impacts can include pollution contaminating drinking water, killing millions of animals, reducing air quality, exacerbating climate change, increasing the likelihood of natural disasters, creating breeding grounds for disease, and so much more.

National Waste Awareness Day is a crucial piece in us all working towards a cleaner and more sustainable future. Through awareness and actions generated from observances such as this, Indonesia must improve its waste management systems. As of 2020, Indonesia was the second largest plastic polluter in the world. This tragic statistic means Indonesia can innovate, improve, and turn into a role model for other countries by reforming the waste management system here.

Through collaboration between the government, the public, and the private sector, we can build a healthy and sustainable environment for future generations. This observance is a collective call to commit to positive change and safeguard our planet.

Text by: Communication Team, BOS Foundation Headquarters, Bogor, West Java

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