AS INDONESIA struggles with mountains of plastic waste going into landfill and polluting its rivers and oceans, business groups are pushing to overturn restrictions on plastic scrap into Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, is estimated to be world's second largest contributor of plastic pollutants in the oceans after China, according to a 2015 study published in Science journal.

To tackle this, the government last year pledged up to $1 billion a year to reduce marine plastic debris by 70% by 2025.

But emerging division in the government on the issue of waste pose a fresh challenge to these targets.

Partly driving this rift is a push by the  plastic industry to overturn a halt in scrap imports, which was introduced in June on concerns about a flood of waste from western countries arriving after China barred such imports.

Industry minister Airlangga Hartario last month sent a letter urging the environment ministry to lift its bar on imports because Indonesia does not currently produce enough suitable plastic waste to feed its recycling industry.

In the letter, reviewed by Reuters, Hartario argued Indonesia needs 600,000 tons of imported scrap a year, much bigger than its usual 110,000 tonnes. He said the country enjoyed about $40 million trade surplus by exporting recycled plastics.

''This is a potential industry that creates a lot of jobs,'' said Taufek Barazier, director of downstream chemical industry at the industry ministry, cautioning that focusing only on environmental risks could harm the industry.

The honor and serving of the  latest risk on Environmental issues and Plastic waste and Recycling continues. [Agencies]


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