Indonesia is likely a top source of the plastic rubbish in the world’s oceans, says a study by an international research team of environmental scientists.
Together with China, Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the world’s fourth-most populous country accounts for more than a third of the plastic bottles, bags and other detritus washed out to sea, says the new account of global garbage, published Thursday in the journal Science.
The study, led by Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia, found that between 4.8 million and 12.7 million tons of discarded bottles, bags, straws, packaging and other items ended up in the world’s oceans in 2010.
In Indonesia, people living along the coast generated about 3.22 million tons of mismanaged plastic waste in 2010, about 10% of the world total. Of that, between 0.48 million and 1.29 million metric tons ended up as marine waste, the researchers estimated.
Government officials in Indonesia said they are working out the details of a 2008 law on waste management to improve conditions.
“Waste management is improving” even if “a growing population has meant more waste,” said Ilham Malik, the ministry’s deputy minister for hazardous wastes.