Indonesia braces for Eid al-Fitr waste fallout

Authorities say the huge pile of rubbish after the annual Ramadan exodus will be significantly higher this year
Indonesia braces for Eid al-Fitr waste fallout

In this March 2018 file photo, workers take part in an ocean clean-up. Authorities are expecting to clear up a huge amount of waste after this year's traditional Eid al-Fitr exodus. (Photo by Konradus Epa/

Indonesian authorities are bracing for a huge clear-up operation with thousands of tons of waste likely to pile up during this year's Eid al-Fitr exodus, a government official says.

The end of Ramadan exodus is an annual tradition in which millions of city residents in the world's most populous Muslim country return to their hometowns to celebrate Eid al-Fitr with their families

The government has announced that the entire Eid al-Fitr holiday will last ten days, from June 11 until June 20. This year, the Islamic feast falls on June 15.

An estimated 19.5 million people were traveling home for this year's holiday, up 5 percent compared to the last year's 18.6 million travelers.

Novrizal Tahar, director of waste management at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, predicted that at least 13,650 tons of waste would be produced during the traditional Ramadan exodus.

"Up to 20 million people travel to their hometowns. If each traveller produces 0.7 kilograms of waste every day, just imagine how much waste that will produce, especially plastic," he told

According to ministry spokesman, Djati Witjaksono Hadi, the expected amount of waste will be significantly higher than the 9,900 tons recorded last year.

"Travelers should be aware of this. It's their responsibility to reduce the use of plastic materials," he said.

He said the ministry launched an anti-plastic drive called "fun travel without plastic bags" for this year's exodus.

Indonesia produces 65 million tons of waste per year, with 30 percent of this figure plastic waste.

Achmad Wibowo, a 28-year-old Muslim who traveled by train from Jakarta to Central Java on June 11, said he was using plastic bags to carry meals and drinks during the 10-hour trip.

"I don't throw away the bags. I keep them until I get home," he said, adding he was supporting the ministry's campaign.

Father Lucius Tumanggor, coordinator of the Divine Word Society's Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Java, welcomed the campaign. 

"Two years ago, I went to Bandung [in West Java] two days after Eid al-Fitr. I stopped at a rest area and saw a huge pile of waste. That was only one rest area. So the government's campaign is a good move to reduce the use of plastic materials," he said.

"Many people are still unaware of what a big problem plastic and styrofoam is," he said.

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Early this month, Greenpeace Indonesia and the Indonesian Ulema Council launched a similar campaign in mosques.

In 2017, the government committed to reducing marine plastic debris by 70 percent by the end of 2025. 

The year previously, it launched its "Indonesia Free Waste 2020" campaign and began a trial policy to reduce plastic waste by instructing retailers to charge customers 200 rupiah (less than 1 US cent) for each plastic bag used.

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