Indonesia’s crackdown on imported foreign waste has upset the village of Bangun, where residents say they earn more money sorting through piles of garbage than growing rice in once-lush paddy fields.
Overwhelmed by a spike in waste imports after China closed its doors to foreign garbage, Indonesia has tightened import rules and customs inspections, sending hundreds of tonnes of foreign waste back to their origin countries.
Green groups praised the crackdown, but Bangun residents say restricting trash from countries like the United States, Canada and Australia will wipe out a key source of income.
“Every year 17-20 people from this village go on a Haj. That’s funded from this waste,” he said.
Indonesia has launched a plan to reduce marine plastic debris by 70% by 2025, pledging to spend $1 billion, but it is unclear how much progress has been made.
The government is behind schedule for setting up waste-to-energy plants, while a plan to impose a levy on plastic bags is facing strong opposition from the plastic industry.