By G9ija

Indonesia has said it will send more than 210 tonnes of rubbish back to Australia, the latest move by a Southeast Asian nation against serving as a dumping ground for rich countries.

The eight containers seized in Surabaya city should have carried only waste paper, but authorities also found hazardous material and household rubbish in them, including used diapers, a spokesman for the East Java customs agency told AFP news agency on Tuesday.

Following the inspection, the Indonesian environment ministry recommended “the items be re-exported”, the agency said in a separate statement on Monday. 

“This is done to protect the public and Indonesian environment, especially in East Java, from B3 waste,” it added, referring to hazardous and toxic materials.

Australian company Oceanic Multitrading sent the waste to Indonesia with help from Indonesian firm PT MDI, authorities said.

Last week, Indonesia said it was sending back 49 containers of waste to France and other countries.

In May, neighbouring Malaysia announced it was shipping 450 tonnes of imported plastic waste back to its sources, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The Philippines, meanwhile, returned about 69 containers of rubbish back to Canada last month, putting an end to a diplomatic row between the two countries.

The Southeast Asian countries have began receiving huge quantities of rubbish since China’s decision in 2018 to ban imports of foreign plastic waste left developed nations struggling to find places to send their rubbish.

The opposition to handling exported waste has been growing in the region.

Global concern over plastic pollution has been spurred by images of waste-clogged rivers in Southeast Asia and accounts of dead sea creatures found with kilos of refuse in their stomachs.

About 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), with much of it ending up in landfills or polluting the seas, in what has become a growing international crisis.