Organic or Inorganic? Which Goes To Which?

If you happen to visit Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) as I did a few months ago, you would probably come across dual waste containers more or less similar to the illustration presented in this post. You may also find these waste containers in other academic institutions but I suppose they are rather rarely seen outside the academic institutions. The purpose of the separation is obvious, it is to separate the “ecofriendly” wastes from the ones which are not. Of course, for some individuals especially the ones who are less educated it is not always easy to decide on the container into which they should throw away their scraps.  that’s why it is understood why these dual containers are mostly found in academic institutions. For those who do not know the “ecofriendly” wastes, they are wastes which are readily broken down by microorganisms mostly by bacteria. The ecofriendly wastes must go to the “sampah organik” or organic waste container and the ones which are not must go to “sampah anorganik” or inorganic waste container.

Of course, this separation is made with good intention, no doubt about it. But let’s see if terms adopted here “organik” and “anorganik” are appropriate for this case. If you look for the word “organic” in the dictionary, the definition should read more or less like “Of, relating to, or derived from living organisms”. This definition should make the rule of thumb look easier when you meet these dual containers and you happen to throw away a scrap. Things like mandarin or banana peels go to the organic container while all plastics go to the inorganic container. Wait a sec! Plastics go to the inorganic container?? Are you not mistaken? If you look for the information of plastic in Wikipedia, the first information obtained will be “A plastic material is any of the wide range of synthetic and semi-synthetic organic amorphous solid…..etc.” Now how can you come to a conclusion that plastics must go to the  inorganic container? Okay…. if you still think that it is still not good enough for you to acknowledge plastics as organic wastes let me tell you this that most plastics are derived from crude oil! And crude oil as you learned it at the primary school decades back is formed from prehistoric living microorganisms. The accumulated fossilised microorganisms underwent the überslow evolution that take millions of years to become crude oil that we know today. So it is beyond doubt that plastics are organic!!

On reading this post now you realise why the adoption of the terms “organik” and “anorganik” are incorrect for this case. In my humble opinion they should be replaced by the terms “biodegradable” and “non-biodegradable” or maybe in Bahasa Indonesia the terms “ramah lingkugan” and “tak ramah lingkungan” will do.

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13 responses to “Organic or Inorganic? Which Goes To Which?

  1. Hi Yari,
    I am always glad to visit your blog which provides scientific explanations about things that we face in daily life.
    Re: garbage/trash disposal, I wonder whether or not cities in other countries have similar problems faced by cities in Indonesia.
    It seems to me that cities like Singapore and Hong Kong are able to handle the matter without problem.

  2. Geez. Interesting. Till now I was pretty sure, where to put my waste. But now I am in doubt :) .

    We have to separate between chemical stuff, paper, plastic, glass. It has to be put in a central container in the neighbourhood. For little items we have a grey mini-container for non organic stuff and a green one for organics in our garden. Once every two weeks they are collected by a firm dealing with assorted domestic waste collection .

    I never had any doubt to put food left overs or superfluous and dead plants or wood from the garden in the green one. Never thought plastics maybe could be added .. So much more convenient..

  3. Berkunjung untuk silaturahmi. Selamat idul fitri 1431 H, maaf lahir dan batin.
    Salam

  4. Of course, for some individuals especially the ones who are less educated it is not always easy to decide on the container into which they should throw away their scraps. that’s why it is understood why these dual containers are mostly found in academic institutions

    LOL for the last sentence! :LOL:

    obviously, the different colour of the container, should be explaining the use.

    and, as a long-time-needed for plastic to decay, i still belive, that plastic is absooolutely classified as inorganic waste

  5. Oh, tempat sampah di ITB itu ya?

    Saya pernah buang orang di yang biru…

  6. Very informative!!

    In recent times, the world is becoming cognizant about the hazardous effects of plastic bags on the environment.
    Also PLA has been used to line the inside of Paper Cups in place of the oil based lining more commonly used, create Plastic ( bioplastics ) Cups, Cutlery, Carrier Bags, Food Packaging and even Nappies.
    Thanks,

  7. probably there are no study to place that term or it already common word that without specific explanation everybody get what they mention regarding organic and inorganic term.

  8. di itb skrg tong sampah spt itu udah hampir punah juga mungkin banyak juga mahasiswanya yg ga paham ngebedainnya. hahah

  9. @Multibrand

    Hi Harry, your remarks remind me of Bandung a few years ago when we could see ubiquitous piles of dumps around the city. I would never forget how I saw maggots wiggling around on the streets, maggots nearly as large as our little finger the biggest I’ve ever seen, it’s so disgusting. I hope Bandung and other cities in Indonesia in the future can handle the environmental problems as well as Singapore and Hong Kong.

    @Colson

    It is only a matter of designation on the dual containers mostly found here in Indonesia. Apart from it, I believe you had done everything correctly and I am sure you will easily tell biodegradables from the non-biodegradable ones apart. :)

    @Alris

    Sama-sama, mohon maaf lahir batin juga. :)

    @Kurology

    Yes, colours can be good replacements for the ‘unintelligible’ terms to non-scholars. But those colours must be widely known and familiar or they must be made known publicly so everyone will easily recognise them. :)

    @Black_Claw

    Loh… tempo hari katanya buang hajat di sana, hayo ngaku! :lol:

    Collins Pt

    Yes…. more recently plastics and synthetics which are more ‘green’ or ecofriendly were introduced to replace the older generation of non-ecofriendly plastics. Now it adds complexity as to the dual containers, in which container that this kind of new more biodegradable synthetics are put?? The biodegrable or non-biodegradable?? Are they biodegradable enough to be put in the ‘organik’ container??

    @boyin

    Or maybe the terms ‘organik’ and ‘anorganik’ are more easily understood by the laypersons and they are more space-saving than those of ‘ramah lingkungan’ and ‘tak ramah lingkungan’.

    @ag bint

    Moso sih?? Andaikan iya, moso alasannya seperti itu sih?? :lol:

  10. di kota-kota dan kabupaten di daerah-daerah.. sekarang banyak yang menyediakan dua tempat tong sampah..organik atau non organik….
    sepertinya ini sudah menjadi standar operasi dinas kebersihan kota di indonesia.. moga saja gitu.. keren kok

  11. It’s the very thing i want to catch. Thanks!./,

  12. Unfortunately, not all cities in Indonesia provides dual containers for organic and inorganic waste. Beside that we also facing the habit problem. :(

  13. @elmoudy

    Betul, idenya bagus. Tapi namanya agak keliru. Seharusnya bukan “organik” dan “anorganik” tetapi “ramah lingkungan” dan “tak ramah lingkungan”. :)

    @Cheap Silver Jewelry

    Thanks for dropping by. :)

    @tikno

    Yes the separation is a splendid idea we should have more the ones like these in all cities across the archipelago, but we have to select more appropriate designation for the containers… :)

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