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Indonesia to tighten waste import rules after paper scrap smuggling controversy

Indonesia to tighten waste import rules after paper scrap smuggling controversy

Indonesia is the latest country to return imported rubbish after neighbouring Malaysia vowed to ship back hundreds of tonnes of plastic waste last month. (Photo: AFP/Santirta Martendano)

JAKARTA: The Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry said on Sunday (Jun 16) that it will tighten rules regarding paper waste imports, a day after officials said five containers of rubbish falsely declared as paper scrap were returned to the United States.

Ms Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, the director-general for non-lethal waste management at the ministry said that some of the regulations in the Trade Ministry’s Decree No.31/2016 on non-lethal waste imports will need to be rephrased.

“This includes proposing to shift paper scrap imports from the green route to the red route, when the total waste imported comes in a substantial amount,” she said in a text message, according to news site Tempo.

Currently, paper scrap imported under the “green route” are not subject to physical checks.

Meanwhile, the “red route” involves physical checks being conducted, while the paperwork will be scrutinised before a permit to unload is issued.

“We will also construct a law enforcement mechanism for those proven to be responsible in importing waste,” said the director-general.

In the meantime, she said the ministry will continue to re-export imported scrap and plastic waste that contain trash.

On Saturday, Indonesian officials said five containers of rubbish have been returned to the US. They also pledged that Indonesia will not become a "dumping ground".

The containers were supposed to contain only paper scrap, according to the customs documents.

Instead, they were loaded with other waste including bottles, plastic waste, and diapers, said senior environment ministry official Sayid Muhadhar.

READ: Malaysia to return 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste to countries of origin, says importers are ‘traitors’

READ: Commentary - Trash dumping in Manila is raising a stink

The five containers - owned by a Canadian company - were shipped from Seattle to Indonesia's second biggest city Surabaya in late March.

Indonesia is the latest country to return imported rubbish after neighbouring Malaysia vowed to ship back hundreds of tonnes of plastic waste last month.

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.


Source: CNA/afp/aw(tx)

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