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Trash pollution in the Indonesian sea threatens life

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Cartoon Work by Edi Dharma, Title: Tsunami Trash

By Suwandi and Edi Dharma

THE WHALE Sperm species stranded and died in the waters of Kapota Island, Wakatobi Regency, Southeast Sulawesi, indicate the Indonesian sea has been polluted by garbage. In the stomach of the dead fish was found trash with a total weight of 5.9 kilograms.

Trash inside the whale’s stomach consists of 750 gram (115 pieces) plastic glass, 140 grams (19 pieces) hard plastic, 150 grams (4 pieces) plastic bottles, 260 grams (25 pieces) plastic bags, 740 grams wood chips (6 pieces), 270 gram flip flops (2 pieces), 200 gram nylon sack (1 piece), 3260 gram raffia (more than 1000 pieces).

The problem of waste has become a global problem. Unfortunately, even developed countries that have the latest technology have not been able to recycle waste. Surabaya Tanjung Perak Customs and Excise caught eight containers containing 282 Australian bundles of 210 tons of garbage.

The rubbish was allegedly contaminated with hazardous and toxic waste (B3), which was sent from Australia to Indonesia. A surge in imported waste has added to the production of waste in Indonesia. Indonesia produces around 65 million tons of waste in 2019. About 15 million tons pollute the ecosystem and environment because it is not handled properly. Most of the rubbish ends up at sea.

The types of waste that are mostly produced are 60 percent organic waste, 14 percent plastic waste, 9 percent paper waste, 4.3 percent metal waste, glass, wood and other materials 12.7 percent.

The Nexus 3 non-governmental organization said the condition of importing waste into Indonesia entered an alarming phase. He noted that Indonesia was a destination for shipping waste from the United States. In his notes, there were 58 containers originating from the United States, containing waste containing toxic hazardous materials (B3) and mixed plastic waste contaminants in September 2019.

Nexus3 senior researcher Yuyun Ismawati said based on the Basel Convention, Indonesia should take strict control over the re-export of illegal shipments of waste. He noted 12 of the 58 containers had been returned to the United States. The rest was instead transferred to 38 other countries, such as India, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Canada.

As many as 38 containers were diverted to India, first arriving at the Teluk Lamong Terminal, Surabaya, East Java at three different time periods and departure points. The goal is a number of paper mills in East Java. First, 15 containers depart from the Pacific Container Terminal in Long Beach, California, United States on June 27, 2019. Second, 10 containers depart from the SA Marine T-30 Terminal in Seattle, Washington, United States on August 2, 2019. Third, 13 containers depart from one of the unidentified ports in the United States on July 28, 2019.

Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation (ECOTON) researcher Daru Setyo Rini said the import of waste paper was actually not a problem because it was the need of paper mills to make new paper. However, the problem is when the waste paper is contaminated with plastic and has B3 content or the term is unsorted paper. This rule is stipulated in the Minister of Trade Regulation Number 31 Year 2016 concerning Provisions on the Import of Non-Toxic Hazardous Waste.

Furthermore, the Central Statistics Agency regarding the amount of imported paper waste entering East Java reached 750 thousand tons per 2018. While for the national scale it reached 1.5 million tons. The Indonesian government has not implemented restrictions on paper imports like China.

Researcher at the Center for Oceanographic Research (P2O) of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) M Reza Cordova also revealed facts about plastic waste, especially microplastics. According to him, microplastic has indeed threatened the destruction of marine ecosystems in Indonesia and it continues throughout the year without stopping.

Reza said, it is estimated that currently the number of microplastics in Indonesian seawater is in the range of 30 to 960 particles / liter. The presence of microplastics in Indonesian seawater is the same as the amount of microplastics found in the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. However, it is lower than on the coast of China, the California Coast, and Northwest of the Atlantic Ocean.

Data published by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) states that the average amount of waste production in Indonesia reaches 175,000 tons per day, equivalent to 64 million tons per year. When using assumptions based on that data, the waste produced by each person per day is 0.7 kilograms (kg). In fact, based on a study released by McKinsey and Co and Ocean Conservancy, Indonesia is said to be the number two producer of plastic waste in the world after China.

The sea in Indonesia which is connected with the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean is the last place to dump the world’s garbage. While the State of Indonesia does not yet have the technology to process waste dumped into the sea. There are millions of living things that inhabit the Indonesian seas which comprise one third of the world’s species. The genocide of living things is a time bomb. Garbage seriously threatens life at sea. (*)

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