Styrofoam waste still abundant and not properly addressed: Indonesian youth group

The government has been trying to combat plastic waste, especially those caught in rivers and streams that flow into the ocean.

A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil

A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil

The Jakarta Post


Be the change: Students from different elementary schools participate in an early-morning clean-up of Bali's most famous Kuta beach. (JP/Zul Trio Anggono)

February 13, 2023

JAKARTA – Youth-led environmental group the Antheia Project says that Styrofoam is yet another dangerous waste that has not been properly addressed, being widely used but with little to no waste processing, leaving large amounts degraded in nature and found on beaches.

Ruhani Nitiyudo, co-founder of the Antheia Project said of the various projects that Antheia was undertaking, one of which was a beach clean-up with the locals on the coastal areas of North Jakarta and the Thousand islands regency, the group found Styrofoam being one of the major plastic wastes washed up on the shores.

“When we carried out one of our Antheia projects to clean up the beach, we noticed that there’s a lot of Styrofoam and it’s heartbreaking that it’s happening to the environment,” Ruhani told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

She urged that the usage of Styrofoam needs to be managed and even reduced because they are difficult to dispose of and cannot decompose.

“We realize Styrofoam is one of the biggest [environmental] issues and when they get to become smaller pieces, they become microplastic,” Ruhani said.

She cited a 2019 Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) study that found 59 percent of waste found in nine rivers in Jakarta, Tangerang and Bekasi flowing into the Jakarta Bay between 2015 and 2016 were plastic waste of various kinds and uses, most of which were Styrofoam.

For the Antheia Project, Ruhani said the group wanted to increase awareness of the matter to discourage people from using Styrofoam while also seeking alternatives. The Antheia Project is trying to popularize its campaign with the social media hashtag #SayNoToStyrofoam.

“We want not just to advocate but to also provide solutions. We want to do that part,” Ruhani said.

She added that reducing Styrofoam usage was the main way to combat the growing waste as the number of recyclers that accept them were too few to be effective.

“They [recycling companies] have that system [to recycle Styrofoam] here but it’s not high in demand, so not many people know about them,” Ruhani said.

The government has been trying to combat plastic waste, especially those caught in rivers and streams that flow into the ocean.

In 2018, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo signed Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 83/2018 on marine pollution that aims to tackle the 70 percent of plastic waste that enters the sea by 2025.

In 2019, the Environment and Forestry Ministry issued a ministerial regulation (PermenLHK) No. 75/2019, which stipulates that plastic producers must set up a waste reduction road map for their products.

The Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya in January said the government was committed to address the problem of waste from the upstream and downstream lifecycle of products, targeting to reach “zero waste” by 2030.

The ministry’s Director General for Waste Management Rosa Vivien Ratnawati said the government was working toward its target of 70 percent waste management and 30 percent waste reduction by 2025, as mandated in the Presidential Regulation No. 97/2017 on household waste management.

“This 2023 ahead of 2025, we expect that we are ready to address waste and to ensure the prosperity of the people by realizing the economic potentials that waste have,” Vivien said on Feb. 8.


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