Indonesia Returns Hundreds of Tonnes of Garbage to Australia

Eight garbage containers - weighing about 210 tonnes - left the second largest city of Surabaya in Indonesia on Monday aboard a freighter traveling to Singapore, the local customs agency said.

The move comes less than a week after Australia pledged to halt exports of recyclable waste amid global concerns about ocean plastic pollution and increased efforts by Asian countries to accept waste.

Last month, Indonesia said it would return Australian garbage after authorities discovered hazardous material and household garbage, including used diapers and electronic waste, in containers that were only required to contain waste paper.

"Six containers contaminated with (hazardous) waste and two containers mixed with household rubbish" left Indonesia on Monday, said Alvina Christine Zebua, a spokeswoman for the East Java customs agency.

She could not specify when the containers could arrive back in Australia.

Last month Indonesia returned seven shipping containers of illegally imported waste to France and Hong Kong that were seized in Batam Island near Singapore.

These containers were loaded with a combination of garbage, plastic waste and hazardous materials in violation of import rules.

Authorities in Batam are also preparing to return another 42 waste containers, including from the US, Australia and Germany.

China received most of the plastic waste from around the world, but closed its doors last year in an attempt to clean up its environment.

Huge amounts of waste have been diverted to Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia and, to a lesser extent, the Philippines.

About 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced annually, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), many of them end up in...

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