ICEL

ICEL

Indonesia, Facing a Waste Crisis, Plans to Burn It for Electricity

  • The Indonesian government has targeted four cities in Java island to build incineration facilities this year to tackle the country’s plastic waste crisis.
  • Environmentalists say burning waste to generate electricity is not a sustainable solution to the issue, and will only add more problems, including the emission of toxic gases.
  • They instead suggest tackling the problem at the source, by reducing the amount of waste produced in the first place.
  • Indonesia is the world’s second-biggest source of the plastic trash that ends up in the oceans, after China.

JAKARTA — The Indonesian government plans to burn waste to fuel power plants in four cities on the island of Java this year as part of efforts to tackle the country’s plastic waste crisis.

Indonesia is the second-biggest contributor, after China, to the plastic waste that end up in the oceans, and is among a growing number of Asian countries refusing to import waste from developed countries.

President Joko Widodo called for a solution to the waste problem during a July 16 cabinet meeting, and criticized the lack of updates on plans to build waste incinerators.

“To this day, I haven’t heard any progress on which ones are already online and which ones are already built,” he said in a statement issued by the government.

“This isn’t about the electricity. We want to resolve the trash issue; the electricity comes afterward,” he added.

Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said that 12 cities had proposed building waste-fueled power plants, but only Jakarta, Surabaya, Bekasi and Solo were ready to do so before the end of this year.

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In Indonesia’s Relentless Infrastructure Push, Taint of Corruption Weighs on Environment

Local houses on Bungkutoko Island in Southeast Sulawesi province, Indonesia. Photo by Kamarudin for Mongabay Indonesia
  • Investigators in Indonesia have arrested the mayor and former mayor of the city of Kendari for allegedly taking bribes in the awarding of a contract to build a land bridge to a new port set to open next year.
  • While the investigation is centered on corruption in the bidding process, activists have urged a thorough look into likely environmental violations, given that the project involves sea reclamation and forest-clearing.
  • The project continues, but has already claimed the livelihoods of the fishing community on whose tiny island the new container port is being built.

 

KENDARI, Indonesia — Like most residents of the tiny island of Bungkutoko in Indonesia’s Southeast Sulawesi province, Mahrudin and Nurhaeti are a fishing family. But their boat has remained beached recently, and the couple stay inside their small house.

The island sits just 100 meters (330 feet) from the Sulawesi mainland, but the strait — and the fishing grounds it represents for the Bungkutoko islanders — is disappearing as developers reclaim the sea to build a road to a new container port being developed on the southeastern tip of the island.

The Kendari Newport is expected to go into operation by next year, replacing the old port in Kendari, the provincial capital. The project is part of the government’s wider “maritime highway” program, meant to revive existing ports and build new ones across the far-flung Indonesian archipelago.

“You can see for yourself, [the sea] has turned into land,” Mahrudin tells Mongabay.

Read moreIn Indonesia’s Relentless Infrastructure Push, Taint of Corruption Weighs on Environment