Project Statement

Sandals made from recycled car tyres in Lospalos, Timor Leste (2012)

There are no centrally run waste management systems in rural Lautém and so wastes such as plastics, chemicals and human waste are disposed of into the surrounding environment and water ways. Rubbish within communities are sometimes collected and burnt as a way to control it.  Organic wastes from households such as food scrapes are fed to the local livestock as most households have chickens, pigs or dogs. Agricultural waste is burnt in the fields to add charcoal back into the soil.

With the increase of consumerism comes the increase of waste. Most consumable items come in single serve packets so that they may be purchased as needed when money is available. This however means that there are large amounts of packaging and consequently large amounts of waste being generated. In particular Rinso (laundry detergent) packets and plastic water bottles can often be found throughout the community.

Recycling is not commonly practiced within the rural areas and recycling facilities are not widely available. There are however some clever examples of upcycling where items are reused to serve a different function. Examples of this include the reuse of plastic PET water bottles to house coconut oil and other liquids and the making of sandals from old car tyres.

In general, the concept of waste management is poorly understood outside of major centres and training is poor. Thus the problems still exists and has become an environmental and health hazard.  

Design Projects

The following design projects were identified by Plan-TL and other local community based organisations: 

  • Holistic waste management program
  • Natural biodegradable soap and laundry detergent production to remove chemical pollution from the soaps / detergents themselves and plastic waste from packaging into water ways
  • Composting from organic waste to add value
  • Water filtration to stop the burning of wood for boiling or buying of plastic bottles to minimise waste. See also WASH projects for more information. 
  • Biogas projects from livestock (goats, buffalo, chickens, pigs) manure
  • Upcycling waste for alternative materials or products, e.g. sandals from tyres 


Design Considerations

When designing a solution, the following issues have been identified and should be considered a priority. The proposal should consider:

  • Current waste management practices.
  • Preventing the dumping of waste in communities and waterways 
  • Reducing the transportable waste.
  • The benefits of converting a waste stream into a valuable product which becomes an income stream.
  • How to incentivise waste management within the community so that it will be self-sustaining.





Additional Information

Waste management is progressing locally but they are still some way behind Timor Leste's bigger cities and as such there is still lots of scope for improvement. There is often a common dumping site but a lack of awareness of the site and protocol means that waste is often dumped on the side of the road or in the water ways. Thus education is required to promote the local dump sites. In addition a look at promoting habits of residents away from just dumping rubbish and also washing clothes elsewhere to the towns' water sources is also important. Compost was made in the past but perhaps more training that locals can relate to with positive reinforcement is needed for the idea to catch on. 

Price for recyclables is based per kg and not much money is currently available for recycling so for most residents it is not really worth it. Smart recycling uses are currently being implemented in small quantitites with some products made from coconut waste such as utensils, food and kopra. These are then sold to Indonesia. Plastic bottles are also reused in small businesses to hold oil, honey etc.