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Mismanaged Plastic Waste

Tempo Editorial - May 15, 2024

Jakarta – Indonesia's plastic waste management policy needs an honest and comprehensive evaluation. When handling plastic and all the associated hazards, it is not enough to simply rely on the empty slogan of "3R" – reduce, reuse, recycle, as proclaimed by the government. Radical measures are needed to address the root cause of the problem: the constantly increasing production and use of single-use plastic.

The government has proved unable to handle plastic waste in the field. The volume of plastic that cannot be recycled continues to mount up at final waste disposal sites. Even worse, some of this plastic spreads around to places, including beaches and the open sea.

If proof of this is still needed, read the results of research carried out by Noam Vogt-Vincent from the University of Oxford, England. According to a report issued last year, most of the plastic waste washed up on the beaches of the Seychelles comes from Indonesia. This finding is based on the Indonesian brand names printed on the plastic waste scattered around on the beaches of this African island nation. Indonesian plastic is carried there by ocean currents.

This study is in agreement with the findings of Muhammad Reza Cordova from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), which highlighted the fact that around 10 percent of all of the plastic waste contaminating the ocean comes from rivers in Java and Bali. According to this expert, around 0.59 million tons of plastic waste per year find its way into the environment.

With plastic waste spreading so far, crossing the seas to the coast of Africa, it is time for the Indonesian government to change the direction of its policy. Drastic measures are necessary in the face of this plastic waste crisis. One of these is to completely ban the use of single-use plastic.

Rwanda, a small nation in Africa, provided an example worth following by banning the use of single-use plastic in 2004. This ban applies from top to bottom, to both production and consumption. Anyone violating the ban can be fined or jailed.

The plastic waste crisis needs immediate and bold action. The Indonesian government must have the courage to apply a total ban on single-use plastic and push for the use of environmentally friendly alternatives. There is no need to wait until 2030 – in line with the government's promise to end the use of single-use plastic packaging. The plastic waste emergency needs immediate concrete measures.

The handling of plastic waste is now part of the global endeavor to fight global warming. The production of plastic, which depends on fossil fuels, is a major contributor to carbon emissions. Therefore, the higher the production of plastic, the larger the impact on global warming. If it really cares about global warming, the Indonesian government should be more serious about managing plastic waste.

Consistency and resolve from the government in handling plastic waste are vital. But all of us, as citizens, also have a responsibility to reduce the use of single-use plastic in order to save the environment and our future generations.

– Read the complete story in Tempo English Magazine

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1868067/mismanaged-plastic-wast