Indonesia returning waste to US, other wealthy nations

Indonesia returning waste to US, other wealthy nations
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Indonesia is returning contaminated waste to wealthy nations, including the U.S., The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The Southeast Asian nation is sending back 57 containers contaminated with used diapers, plastic and other materials.

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The Directorate General of Customs said that 49 containers will be returned to Australia, the U.S., France, Germany and Hong Kong because their contents violate Indonesian laws on importing toxic waste, according to the AP.

Separately, the head of customs at East Java’s Tanjung Perak port, Basuki Suryanto, said eight containers are being sent to Australia because they contain waste other than paper that was not initially disclosed.

“It turned out those containers also had household waste, used cans, plastic bottles, used oil packaging, used electronics, used baby diapers and used footwear. So we decided to return it to the country of origin,” Suryanto said, per AP.

Importing hazardous waste into Indonesia is a criminal offense, Directorate General of Customs spokesman Deni Surjantiro added, with a maximum 12-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of 12 billion rupiah, roughly $850,000.

Southeast Asia has increasingly been a destination for developed nations' waste since China banned the import of plastic waste in 2017.

A recent study using United Nations data estimated that other nations would need to take on more than 110 million tons of plastic waste by 2030 because of the Chinese ban.