Novy Lumanauw, Jakarta – Indonesia has reasserted its stance to reject shipments of hazardous and toxic waste from abroad and called for its peers in East Asia to establish an official cooperation in preventing the illegal dumping during the 14th East Asia Summit in Bangkok.
"None of us wants Southeast Asia to become the dumping ground for hazardous and toxic waste," President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said at the summit on Monday.
Countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, have for several years been receiving covert shipments of hazardous and toxic waste from other countries, including from their more developed peers in Asia-Pacific.
These incidents violated international rules regarding the disposal of plastic waste and hazardous toxic waste, Jokowi said.
Indonesia returned 2,194 containers containing hazardous waste to their ports of origin in the first ten months of this year, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said.
It also made sure that the embassies of the countries where the waste came from received official notifications of the incidents to raise concerns about the issue.
"We will enforce the law on the perpetrators. We expect every country in the world, including East Asian countries, to cooperate with our authorities. We have to start preventing these illegal shipments of hazardous and toxic waste according to international agreements," Jokowi said.
The president also raised the alarm that plastic waste will threaten marine ecosystems in the Indo-Pacific region.
"Last year, we agreed to tackle marine plastic waste in East Asia. We encouraged other countries to set up an action plan to fight it," Jokowi said.
Indonesia, he said, has made significant progress in fighting marine plastic waste by creating a national strategy.
"I am optimistic we can achieve our target of reducing marine waste by 70 percent by 2025. I am of the view that East Asian countries can, and must, encourage a global movement against plastic waste," Jokowi said.
The president proposed an official cooperation in handling hazardous toxic and plastic waste in the Asia-Pacific to complement cooperations in infrastructure and connectivity.
Jokowi said he hoped the cooperation would generate enough traction to get the private sector, environmental activists and young people around the world involved.
"One thing in combating plastic and hazardous waste is we have to be consistent," the president said.