'Magic Gardens':

Wastewater Project Delivers Safe Drinking Water to Indonesia

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 844 million people do not have access to drinking water today. It’s a big problem, especially for the world’s largest populations, like in Indonesia. The archipelago nation has the fourth-largest population in the world, yet more than 27 million people lack safe water there. The importance of proper sanitation is critical since 50 million Indonesians don’t use toilets. About 1 in 8 Indonesian households lack access to safe drinking water, according to UNICEF. 

Without a sanitation system, wastewater from toilets leaks into the groundwater, and many people get sick or die from contaminated water. Spending lots of money on bottled water then becomes a necessity.

"To combat the clean water problem in rural and remote areas, Clariant is collaborating with other local and multinational corporations to bring safe drinking water to Indonesia through wastewater treatment gardens (WWGs)."

Countries such as Indonesia struggle to get affordable sanitation systems to deliver safe drinking water to remote households. The Business Council for Sustainable Development Singapore (BCSD) is at the heart of a project to bring wastewater treatment and clean drinking water to poor regions. Launched in 2013, BCSD is a nonprofit focused on creating sustainability in business, society and the environment.

To combat the clean water problem in rural and remote areas, Clariant is collaborating with other local and multinational corporations  to bring safe drinking water to Indonesia through wastewater treatment gardens (WWGs).

These gardens consist of an airtight septic tank and piping; a vegetated leach field with stones, gravel, white sand, a brick rim and a nutrient remover like banana trees; and a ceramic filter. In this system, a septic tank destroys harmful bacteria and produces nutrients. The garden uses up the nutrients, and the ceramic filter eliminates dirt, debris and bacteria after it filters through the groundwater and is retrieved at the well.

The first phase of the WWG project began in November 2016 at the research base in Bintan, Indonesia where more than 50 WWGs have been established since 2016. Later phases could expand beyond Indonesia.

For the project, Clariant is contributing two products: bentonite and grey masterbatches. An adsorbent clay, bentonite helps remove metal ions and pollutants from the wastewater, and the masterbatches are used as additives for the plastic materials used. Its grey masterbatches are used to color the septic tank that collects wastewater for primary treatment. These color additives help protect the tank from sunlight degradation.

"By playing a role in this wastewater treatment project, we demonstrate once again Clariant's strong commitment to sustainability and reinforce our role as a responsible corporate citizen in the Southeast Asian region," says Dieter Seng, regional president of the Southeast Asia Pacific Region for Clariant.

For the WWGs to succeed, they’ll need to be affordable. Still, there’s a long waiting list for Indonesian villagers to get WWGs. The villagers say water from a well that’s treated by a WWG tastes better than bottled water and that drinking from the well also save them money over the bottles.

Harnessing the power of nature and innovative science, we’re helping to fulfill a basic human right— safe and clean water.

To learn more about the initiative check out the BCSD project site.

Joana Isabel Kelp
Joana Isabel Kelp
Contact Person

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