Indonesia has returned five containers of rubbish to the United States, refusing to become a "dumping ground", officials said Saturday, June 15th. It is the latest Southeast Asian country to return imported waste, AFP has reported.
According to customs documents, the containers were supposed to contain not only paper scrap but also bottles, plastic waste, and diapers, said senior environment ministry official Sayid Muhadhar.
Muhadhar stated, "This is not appropriate, and we don't want to be a dumping ground," adding that the five containers were shipped from Seattle in the United States to Indonesia's second biggest city Surabaya in late March. It was not immediately clear where the rubbish originated from.
Currently, Indonesia is examining several other containers, belonging to a Canadian company, in Jakarta's port and in the city of Batam, on the island of Sumatra.
Furthermore, the Philippines has ordered tonnes of garbage dumped in the country to be shipped back to Canada, sparking a diplomatic row between the two countries.
For years China received the bulk of scrap plastic from around the world but closed its doors to foreign refuse last year in an effort to clean up its environment.
Huge quantities of waste have since been redirected to Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia and to a lesser degree the Philippines.
According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), about 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year. Much of that ends up in landfill or in the seas.