Indonesian maggot farmer Rendria Labde spoils his black soldier flies with tasty treats and no wonder: to him, they are warriors fighting an urgent battle against the mounds of food waste threatening to spill over from Jakarta’s landfill.
Most of the rubbish from this city of more than 10 million people, including food waste, ends up in the Bantar Gebang landfill in Bekasi, a nearby satellite city.
But Labde had a better idea - feed the discarded food to his black soldier flies and then sell dried maggots to animal and fish feed makers. And so, he founded Magalarva.
“Being a city boy, I looked around at what is the biggest problem in the city. I needed to do something about the waste,” said Labde, who launched Magalarva in 2018 and goes by the nickname ‘fly guy’.
Magalarva collects food waste, which is then sorted at its facility and used as a feed source for black soldier fly larvae. The bioconversion process converts food waste into high-protein body mass of larvae and organic fertilisers.
Today, the company takes in 5-6 tonnes of food waste per day and produces about 250 kilogrammes of dried larva.
It all started in 2016 when Labde decided to find out more about his own trash trail by following it to Bantar Gebang, a “monumental” moment that left him awed by the landfill’s size and how badly maintained it was.
Poorly designed landfills can contaminate groundwater and emit GHGs (greenhouse gases) into the atmosphere.
Nick Jeffries, senior expert, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
As Jakarta’s wealth and population have soared in recent years, vital infrastructure like rubbish collection and recycling services have struggled to keep pace.
Many Indonesian cities rely on informal scavengers to keep streets clean, with valuable trash separated and sometimes recycled while the rest is often burned by roadsides or thrown into waterways where it can cause flooding or wash downstream to blight coastal areas of the archipelago.
Most of the rest of the rubbish ends up at landfill sites, which globally account for around 11 per cent of methane emissions. This is expected to rise about 70 per cent by 2050 as the world’s population continues to climb, according to the World Bank.