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Indonesia Ships 210 Tons of Trash Back to Australia

  • A customs officer shows a container of waste paper imported from Australia. Surabaya, East Java province. July 9, 2019

    A customs officer shows a container of waste paper imported from Australia. Surabaya, East Java province. July 9, 2019 | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 July 2019

Household rubbish, electronic waste, plastic bottles, and diapers were found in the containers that were supposed to hold waste paper.

Southeast Asian countries are refusing to be the dumping grounds for rich nations, and Indonesia is the latest country to announce it will send back waste to a 'developed' nation, refusing some 210 tons of waste shipped to the archipelago nation.


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Eight vessels were found to contain various types of waste, including household rubbish, electronic waste, plastic bottles, and diapers, as they were inspected in the capital of East Java. According to contracts Indonesia was only supposed to receive waste paper from their Pacific neighbor.

Following inspection of the garbage sent by Australian company Oceanic Multitrading, the Indonesian ministry of environment said Monday that the containers will be “re-exported.”

"This is done to protect the public and Indonesian environment, especially in East Java, from B3 waste," explained the ministry, referring to the potentially toxic material that had landed on its shores.

Last week, Indonesia sent back quantities of garbage to France and other countries for similar infractions.

In May, Malaysia said it was shipping 450 tons of plastic waste back to the countries that issued them, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.

The Philippines also returned 69 containers of garbage to Canada last month.

The Southeast Asian countries had begun to receive tons of garbage since China called off foreign plastic waste imports in 2018, leaving Western nations in a struggle to find places for their waste. Since then, smaller Asian nations are dealing with foreign waste, and calling out larger countries for not adhering to waste regulations.

This latest incident occurs as global worry over plastic pollution is growing, fuelled by thousands of images and videos showing the impacts of plastic on the environment, including waste-clogged rivers in Southeast Asia and marine animals found dead after having swallowed kilos of plastic materials.

More than eight million tons of plastic enters the oceans every year according to the World Wide Fund (WWF).

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