Indonesia to return 210 tonnes of waste to Australia

Hazardous material and household rubbish found in containers that should have had only waste paper, authorities say.

Indonesia Australia rubbish
The opposition to handling exported waste has been growing in the region [Juni Kriswanto/AFP]

Indonesia has said it will send more than 210 tonnes of rubbish back to Australia in the latest move by a South East Asian nation against serving as a “dumping ground” for rich countries.

The eight containers seized in Surabaya city should have carried only waste paper, but authorities also found hazardous material and household rubbish in them, including used nappies, a spokesman for the East Java customs agency told AFP news agency on Tuesday.

Following the inspection, the Indonesian environment ministry recommended “the items be re-exported”, the agency said in a separate statement on Monday.

“This is done to protect the public and Indonesian environment, especially in East Java, from B3 waste,” it added, referring to hazardous and toxic materials.

Australian company Oceanic Multitrading sent the waste to Indonesia with help from Indonesian firm PT MDI, authorities said.

Previous cases

Last week, Indonesia said it was sending back 49 containers of waste to France and other countries.

How much plastic is in our oceans? (02:32)

In May, neighbouring Malaysia announced it was shipping 450 tonnes of imported plastic waste back to its sources, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The Philippines, meanwhile, returned about 69 containers of rubbish to Canada last month, putting an end to a diplomatic row between the two countries.

The South East Asian countries have began receiving huge quantities of rubbish since China’s decision in 2018 to ban imports of foreign plastic waste left developed nations struggling to find places to send their rubbish.

The opposition to handling exported waste has been growing in the region.

Global concern over plastic pollution has been spurred by images of waste-clogged rivers in South East Asia and accounts of dead sea creatures found with kilos of refuse in their stomachs.

More than eight million tonnes of plastic are being dumped in the oceans every year, which could add up to 300 million tonnes by 2030, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), on what has become a growing international crisis.

Source: News Agencies