Asia-Pacific

Indonesia set to send more than 210 tonnes of rubbish back to Australia

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More than 210 tonnes of rubbish will be sent back to Australia from Indonesia, after opposition in Asia to imports of waste from industrialised countries.

Indonesia will send back more than 210 tonnes of rubbish to Australia after it was found to contain banned materials including household garbage and used electronics, officials say.

The move comes amid growing public opposition in South East Asia to imports of waste from industrialised countries.

"The scrap paper imported from Australia was contaminated with garbage including plastic bottles, used lubricants and scrap electronics," said Basuki Suryanto, head of the customs department at the Tanjung Perak port in Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city.

"We are taking action to protect the public from hazardous materials that pollute the environment," he said.

Containers loaded with a combination of garbage, plastic waste and hazardous materials from Australia at Tanjung Perak port in Surabaya.
Containers loaded with a combination of garbage, plastic waste and hazardous materials from Australia at Tanjung Perak port in Surabaya.
EPA

Officials on Batam island said earlier this month that 49 containers of rubbish containing household garbage imported from countries including Germany, France and the United States would be sent back.

Last month, the government returned five containers of similar cargo to the US after they were found to contain banned materials.

More plastic rubbish 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 rubbish.

Environmental groups in Indonesia have urged the government to tighten regulations on imports of plastic rubbish, saying the garbage is harming the environment.

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

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