Indonesia to send back 49 containers of trash to developed countries

Indonesian officials check one of the 49 containers loaded with a combination of garbage, plastic waste and hazardous materials in violation of import rules, on Batam island on June 19, 2019.
Indonesian officials check one of the 49 containers loaded with a combination of garbage, plastic waste and hazardous materials in violation of import rules, on Batam island on June 19, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (DPA) - Indonesia will send back 49 containers of plastic garbage to countries such as the United States and Germany, an official said on Wednesday (July 3), amid a regional pushback on illegal trash imports.

"The containers have been sealed and are ready to be returned, pending shipping schedules," said a spokesman for Indonesia's customs department, Mr Deni Sujantoro.

Mr Sujantoro said the trash would be shipped back to the United States, Germany, France, Australia and Hong Kong.

The containers are currently on Batam island, south of Singapore, he said. Last month, the government returned five containers of such trash to the United States after they were found to contain banned materials.

More plastic trash from industrialised countries has found its way to Indonesia and other South-east Asian countries after China last year stopped importing waste from abroad to curb pollution.

But countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are now saying that they do not want to be dumping grounds for trash. Environmental groups in Indonesia have urged the government to tighten regulations on imports of plastic trash, saying the garbage is harming the environment.

In 2018, Indonesia imported 320.4 million kg of plastic waste, up from 128.8 million kg from the previous year, according to the Trade Ministry.

The Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation, an Indonesian environmental group, said plastic trash imported from developed countries has polluted the Brantas river in East Java province.

It said it had found 80 per cent of fish sampled in Brantas contain micro-plastic.