Indonesia ropes in religious leaders in anti-waste drive

Catholic Church official bemoans short-term waste management campaigns, calls for long term solutions
Indonesia ropes in religious leaders in anti-waste drive

A woman scavenges for recyclable items at a dumpsite in Jakarta, as the capital of Southeast Asia's biggest economy produces around 6,500 tonnes of rubbish a day but unlike many major cities, does not have a well thought-out, official recycling system. (Photo by Goh Chai Hin/AFP)

January 24, 2018
The Indonesian government has teamed up with religious leaders in a three-month campaign to improve waste management in the country.

However, a leading Catholic official criticized the move saying temporary measures fail to offer long-term solutions.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar launched the campaign this week. It ends on April 21.

It encourages communities to clean up their environment and looks to increase the role of regional administrations in managing waste.

It also seeks to help President Joko Widodo achieve his target of decreasing waste volume by up to 30 percent by 2025.  

Indonesia produces an estimated 65 million tons of waste per year.

"We approached religious leaders so that they can deliver our message on the environment to their followers during prayer meetings," ministry spokesman Djati Witjaksono, told on Jan. 23.

"Waste is a serious problem and it is not just dumped on land but also into the rivers and oceans," he said.

Indonesia was the second biggest contributor to plastic waste in the ocean's, according to a 2015 report in the journal Science

Father Peter C. Aman, director of the Franciscan Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, said the church has repeatedly called for action to protect the environment.

However, the government needs to create awareness that will continue and make waste management part of everyday life, he said.

"Good habits in terms of waste management among communities must be instilled, instead of just promoting such short-term remedies."

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