A 12-year-old Indonesian activist has called on Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to halt his country's exports of waste paper and plastics to her home province.
Aeshninna (Nina) Azzahra from Gresik, East Java, made the request in an open letter to the PM which was delivered personally to the Australian embassy in Jakarta yesterday evening.
The letter notes Ms Azzahra's dismay at the ecological and health impacts of foreign waste in Indonesia, and details the direct impacts of the export trade on villages in her region.
She said plastic scraps she came across carried labels whose origins lay in Canada, Australia, the US and UK, among other developed nations.
"Stop exporting waste paper mix with plastics scraps to East Java and Indonesia. Please take back your trash from Indonesia."
Many rich countries export both non-recyclable and recyclable waste to poorer nations which are tasked with the often hazardous work of recycling or destroying it.
China was previously the world leader in the trade, but since Beijing imposed a waste import ban in July 2017, millions of kilograms of waste from Australia and other developed nations have ended up in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
In 2018, Australia exported 52,000 tonnes of waste to Indonesia's East Java province alone, a 250 per cent increase from 2014.
Ms Azzahra told the ABC, that during her trips to East Java's rubbish fields, waste with Australian labels was the most common she found after US-labelled rubbish.
Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia Gary Quinlan and Germany's ambassador to Indonesia Peter Schoof has met with Ms Azzahra in response to her pleas on Tuesday (21/01) and Wednesday (22/01), as DW and Jawa Pos reported, to discuss the issue of imported waste in Indonesia.
The Prime Minister's office told the ABC in a statement the Australian Government would phase in a ban on waste plastic, glass and paper exports starting from July.
"Just like Nina, our Government thinks tackling waste is a key priority because it's an important issue for our environment at home and across the region we live in," the statement said.
The spokesperson also said the Government would work with industries to phase out single-use plastic packaging and harmful microbeads.
"We back Indonesia's plan to cut marine debris by 20 per cent and waste by 30 per cent and we're partnering with them to share our knowledge and what our two countries have learned."
Ms Azzahra's message to Mr Morrision follows similar letters addressed to world leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump.