Indonesia to send 210 tons of waste back to Australia

Indonesian officials check one of the 49 containers loaded with a combination of garbage, plastic waste and hazardous materials in violation of import rules, in Batam island. (AFP)
Updated 09 July 2019

Indonesia to send 210 tons of waste back to Australia

  • Following the inspection the Indonesian environment ministry recommended “the items be re-exported”
  • Huge quantities of rubbish have since been redirected to Southeast Asia, but opposition to handling exported trash is growing

JAKARTA: Indonesia said Tuesday it would send more than 210 tons of garbage back to Australia, as Southeast Asian nations push back against serving as dumping grounds for foreign trash.
The eight containers seized in Surabaya city should have contained only waste paper, but authorities also found hazardous material and household trash including plastic bottles and packaging, used diapers, electronic waste and cans, a spokesman for the East Java customs agency told AFP.
Following the inspection the Indonesian environment ministry recommended “the items be re-exported,” the agency said in a separate statement Monday.
“This is done to protect the public and Indonesian environment, especially in East Java, from B3 waste,” it added, referring to hazardous and toxic materials.
Australian company Oceanic Multitrading sent the waste to Indonesia with help from Indonesian firm PT. MDI, authorities said.
China’s decision in 2018 to ban imports of foreign plastic waste threw global recycling into chaos, leaving developed nations struggling to find places to send their waste.
Huge quantities of rubbish have since been redirected to Southeast Asia, but opposition to handling exported trash is growing in the region.
Indonesia announced last week it was sending back 49 containers full of waste to France and other developed nations.
In May, neighboring Malaysia announced it was shipping 450 tons of imported plastic waste back to its sources, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The Philippines, meanwhile, returned about 69 containers of rubbish back to Canada last month, putting an end to a diplomatic row between the two countries.
Global concern over plastic pollution has been spurred by shocking images of waste-clogged rivers in Southeast Asia and accounts of dead sea creatures found with kilos of refuse in their stomachs.
Around 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), with much of it ending up in landfills or polluting the seas, in what has become a growing international crisis.


Republican stalwart Rooney ‘thinking’ about impeachment

Updated 52 min 31 sec ago

Republican stalwart Rooney ‘thinking’ about impeachment

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump gave an atta-boy to Republican Rep. Francis Rooney last year on the congressman’s home turf in swing state Florida.
“I love it when he defends me,” the president said then. He might feel differently now.
The second-term Republican said publicly Friday what others in his party are not, namely that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged a quid pro quo was at work when Trump held up US aid to Ukraine in exchange for Kyiv’s investigation of Democrats and the 2016 elections. Mulvaney later claimed his comments had been misconstrued, but Rooney said he and other Republicans heard them clearly.
“He said there’s a quid pro quo,” Rooney said of Mulvaney during a telephone interview. “I just don’t think that the power and prestige of our country is supposed to be used for political things.”
Asked whether he thinks Trump’s conduct is impeachable, Rooney replied, “I’m still thinking about it.”
Anything short of a “no” on that question, even from only one of 197 Republicans in the House, is notable amid the drive by majority Democrats to impeach Trump. The president has made clear that he does more than notice what he considers acts of disloyalty; he is fond of making examples of Republicans by threatening to sink their re-election bids and following through in a few cases.
Friday night, Trump tweeted, “REPUBLICANS MUST STICK TOGETHER AND FIGHT!” That tweet was accompanied by a video targeting Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has been critical of Trump’s handling of Turkey’s assault on Syrian Kurds.
When Rep. Justin Amash of politically critical Michigan became the first House Republican to call for Trump’s impeachment earlier this year — and quit the party — the backlash from Trump’s orbit was swift.
But that was before revelations about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine, which made his impeachment by the end of the year a real possibility. Since the release of a rough transcript of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president, many current and former administration officials have testified before House impeachment investigators.
Then Mulvaney spoke on Thursday. Rooney said in a telephone interview that the chief of staff’s comments marked a turning point for him from giving the president “the benefit of the doubt.” And he said GOP colleagues are newly troubled.
“They were all going around saying what the president said — that there wasn’t a quid pro quo,” Rooney said. “There were a lot of Republicans looking at that headline yesterday. I think people were concerned about it.”
Rooney said he had not received any blowback from the White House for his comments, though about half of the calls he’s getting are from constituents who are critical, including “some pretty hostile” ones from ardent Trump supporters.
Only a year ago, at a presidential rally in Estero, Trump praised Rooney as “a man who’s so great to me on television. This guy is special. He was a great businessman. Now he’s a great congressman, Francis Rooney.”
He went on: “I love him when he defends me. He’s brutal. He gets the job done, right, Francis? Thank you, man.”
Rooney, 65, is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a solid member of the Republican establishment. Among the wealthiest members of the House, he won his second term last year with 62 percent of the vote. His foreign policy bona fides come in part from his service as ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush.
His official biography tells the story of his longtime connection to the GOP. In 1984, the family started Rooney Holdings Inc. One of the company’s subsidiaries counts among its projects the presidential libraries for both Bush and his father, George H. W. Bush, the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans football stadiums, the US Capitol Visitor’s Center, the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research and the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta.
Rooney has at times been a Trump critic. He was one of 13 House Republicans to join a Democratic effort early this year to stop the president from declaring a national emergency to fund his border wall with Mexico.
On Friday, Rooney was no longer one of Trump’s defenders, on television or elsewhere.
“Whatever may have been gray and unclear before is certainly clear now,” he said on CNN.