Indonesians top global intake of microplastics, new study shows

A man looks through plastic and other debris washed ashore at Kedonganan Beach near Denpasar on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali. (File/AFP)
A man looks through plastic and other debris washed ashore at Kedonganan Beach near Denpasar on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali. (File/AFP)
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Updated 19 June 2024
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Indonesians top global intake of microplastics, new study shows

A man looks through plastic and other debris washed ashore at Kedonganan Beach near Denpasar on Bali.
  • Southeast Asia’s largest economy is second-largest ocean plastic polluter after China
  • No report on illnesses related to microplastics so far, Health Ministry says

JAKARTA: Indonesians are the top global consumers of microplastics, a recent Cornell University study shows, estimating that they ingest about 15 grams of plastic particles per month.

The study, published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal, mapped microplastic uptake in 109 countries and found that people in Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, are the top consumers of microplastics worldwide.

Indonesians topped the list as they consume the equivalent of three credit cards in microplastics every month, the majority from fish and seafood. Using existing data models, Cornell researchers said that Indonesians’ daily consumption of plastic particles increased by 59 times from 1990 to 2018.

“This latest finding adds to the long list of the alarming dangers of plastic pollution in Indonesia … the existence of microplastics cannot be separated from the massive production of plastics,” Afifah Rahmi Andini, plastic lead researcher at Greenpeace Indonesia, told Arab News.

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 270 million people, is the second-largest ocean plastic polluter, just behind China, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Science.

Despite being a major producer and consumer of plastics, Southeast Asia’s largest economy still lags behind when it comes to waste management.

“Our waste management capacity is still far from ideal. Our recycling capacity alone is less than 10 percent of the total plastic waste we produce. So, it’s not that surprising if right now we have to face the bitter truth that Indonesians are at the highest risk of being exposed to microplastics,” Andini said.

Over the years, the Indonesian government has designed various regulations to address the issue of plastic pollution, including a national action plan that aims to reduce marine plastic debris by 70 percent by 2025, which covers strategies for waste reduction, improving waste management infrastructure and public education campaigns.

Major regions, including the capital Jakarta and the popular holiday destination Bali, have also introduced bans on single-use plastics.

“But the existing regulations are not ideal enough to address the issue of microplastic contamination … we must adapt, because it’s now a fact that microplastics are part of our environment and our bodies that we can no longer avoid,” Andini said.

The Cornell study also built on earlier research exploring the presence of plastic particles in fish in Jakarta, crabs in Central Java and chicken eggs in East Java.

“Unfortunately, up to now, Indonesia has yet to include microplastics as a parameter into our food and environmental quality standards.”

The Indonesian Ministry of Health has yet to receive a report on clinical illnesses related to microplastics, but the Cornell study serves as “useful information,” its environmental health director, Dr. Anas Ma’ruf, told Arab News.

“Though it needs to be studied further, it can still serve as information on how health risks caused by microplastics require attention,” he said.

“As Indonesia is the largest maritime country and a main producer of microplastics in the world … public education campaigns must be increased.”


Pakistan police arrest acting chairman of jailed ex-PM Imran Khan’s party

Pakistan police arrest acting chairman of jailed ex-PM Imran Khan’s party
Updated 1 sec ago
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Pakistan police arrest acting chairman of jailed ex-PM Imran Khan’s party

Pakistan police arrest acting chairman of jailed ex-PM Imran Khan’s party

KARACHI: Pakistani police have arrested Gohar Ali Khan, the acting chairman of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party, an official of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party said on Monday.


More than 500 arrested in Bangladesh capital over violence: police

More than 500 arrested in Bangladesh capital over violence: police
Updated 28 min 55 sec ago
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More than 500 arrested in Bangladesh capital over violence: police

More than 500 arrested in Bangladesh capital over violence: police
  • Detainees include the opposition Bangladesh National Party’s third-most senior leader Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury

DHAKA: More than 500 people, including some opposition leaders, have been arrested over days of clashes in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka sparked by protests against job quotas, police said Monday.
“At least 532 people have been arrested over the violence,” Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Faruk Hossain said.
“They include some BNP leaders,” he added, referring to the opposition Bangladesh National Party.
The detainees included the BNP’s third-most senior leader Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury and its spokesman Ruhul Kabir Rizvi Ahmed, he said.
A former national football captain turned senior BNP figure, Aminul Huq, was also held, he added.
Mia Golam Parwar, the general secretary of the country’s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, was also arrested, Hossain said.
He said at least three policemen had been killed during the unrest in the capital and about 1,000 injured, at least 60 of them critically.
BNP spokesman A.K.M Wahiduzzaman said that nationwide, “several hundred BNP leaders and activists were arrested in the past few days.”


Diplomats confront Bangladesh FM over violence

Diplomats confront Bangladesh FM over violence
Updated 35 min 20 sec ago
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Diplomats confront Bangladesh FM over violence

Diplomats confront Bangladesh FM over violence
  • At least 163 people have been killed in what began as movement against politicized quota for government jobs 
  • US ambassador accuses Bangladesh foreign minister of presenting “one-sided” version of events, says diplomatic source 

DHAKA: Diplomats in Dhaka questioned Bangladeshi authorities’ deadly response to widespread student protests following a presentation by the foreign minister that laid the blame for recent violence at demonstrators’ feet, diplomatic officials said Monday.

What began as a movement against politicized admission quotas for sought-after government jobs has snowballed into some of the worst unrest of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s tenure, with at least 163 people killed in clashes so far, according to an AFP count of victims reported by police and hospitals.

Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud summoned ambassadors for a briefing Sunday and showed them a 15-minute video that sources said focused on damage caused by protesters.

But a senior diplomatic official in Dhaka, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP on Monday that US ambassador Peter Haas said Mahmud was presenting a one-sided version of events.

“I am surprised you did not show the footage of police firing at unarmed protesters,” the source quoted Haas as telling the minister.

The source added that Mahmud also did not respond to a question from a United Nations representative about the alleged use of UN-marked armored personnel carriers and helicopters — which the country has in its military inventories — to suppress the protests.

The meeting came after Bangladesh’s top court pared back the hiring quotas for highly desirable government jobs that have been at the center of the protests.

The decision curtailed the number of reserved jobs from 56 percent of all positions to seven percent, most of which will still be set aside for the children and grandchildren of “freedom fighters” from Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.

While the decision represented a substantial reduction to the contentious “freedom fighter” category, it fell short of protesters’ demands to scrap it altogether.

Critics say the quota has been used to stack public jobs with loyalists to Hasina’s ruling Awami League.

A spokesman for Students Against Discrimination, the main group organizing the demonstrations, told AFP: “We won’t call off our protests until the government issues an order reflecting our demands.”

Hasina, 76, has ruled the country since 2009 and won her fourth consecutive election in January after a vote without genuine opposition.

Since the crackdown on protests began, some demonstrators have said they will not be satisfied until Hasina’s government steps down.


Russia downs 75 Ukraine drones, some near Tuapse oil refinery

Russia downs 75 Ukraine drones, some near Tuapse oil refinery
Updated 22 July 2024
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Russia downs 75 Ukraine drones, some near Tuapse oil refinery

Russia downs 75 Ukraine drones, some near Tuapse oil refinery
  • Russian defense ministry did not say whether its defense systems destroyed the drones, or whether the attack had caused any damage
  • Russian officials rarely disclose the full extent of damage inflicted by Ukrainian attacks

Russia’s air defense systems destroyed 75 drones launched by Ukraine overnight, including eight near the town of Tuapse on the Black Sea where Russia’s oil major Rosneft has a refinery, the Russian defense ministry said on Monday.
Forty-seven drones were downed over the Rostov region in Russia’s southwest, 17 over the waters of the Black and Azov seas, eight over the Krasnodar region, where Tuapse is located, and single drones over the Belgorod, Voronezh and Smolensk region, the ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.
The ministry did not say whether its defense systems destroyed the drones, or whether the attack had caused any damage.
Sergei Boiko, head of the Tuapse district in the Krasnodar region, said on Telegram infrastructure and residential buildings had not been damaged.
Russian officials rarely disclose the full extent of damage inflicted by Ukrainian attacks. The Tuapse refinery has been a target of several Ukrainian air attacks since the start of the war that Russia launched against its smaller neighbor in 2022.
Russia’s SHOT and Mash Telegram news channels reported that a series of blasts were heard near the refinery early Monday.
Reuters could not independently verify the Russian reports. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. Kyiv has often said that the attacks on Russia’s military, energy and transport infrastructure are in response to Russia’s continuous attacks on Ukraine’s territory.


Fire-hit tanker enters Malaysia terminal area after being detained by coast guard

Fire-hit tanker enters Malaysia terminal area after being detained by coast guard
Updated 22 July 2024
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Fire-hit tanker enters Malaysia terminal area after being detained by coast guard

Fire-hit tanker enters Malaysia terminal area after being detained by coast guard
  • The supertanker Ceres I left the scene of a fiery collision with another tanker
  • Singapore is Asia’s biggest oil-trading hub and the world’s largest bunkering port

SINGAPORE: A tanker that was involved in a collision near Singapore last week entered the area of Malaysia’s Bertam floating oil terminal on Monday morning after it was intercepted by local authorities on Sunday, shipping data from LSEG and Kpler showed.
The Sao Tome and Principe-flagged supertanker Ceres I left the scene of a fiery collision with another tanker, the Singapore-flagged Hafnia Nile, on Friday.
The Ceres I was found in Malaysian waters with two tugboats towing it, the coast guard said in a statement on Sunday.
The Ceres I and the two tugboats have been detained by the coast guard for further investigation, it said.
The Bertam floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) terminal is located in the South China Sea off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
The Ceres I is a very large crude carrier (VLCC) supertanker capable of carrying around 2 million barrels of oil. AIS data on LSEG showed that Ceres I is empty.
Ceres I has loaded crude and fuel oil from Iran and Venezuela through ship-to-ship transfers between 2019 and March 2024, Kpler data showed.
Shanghai Prosperity Ship Management is the manager of the Ceres I, according to LSEG data. The company could not be immediately reached for comment.
Separately, Hafnia, the manager of Hafnia Nile, said over the weekend it was in discussions with Malaysian authorities to safely move the vessel.
The Hafnia Nile, a 74,000-deadweight-tons capacity Panamax tanker, was carrying about 300,000 barrels naphtha for Japan, according to ship-tracking data from Kpler and LSEG. Naphtha is a raw material for making petrochemicals.
Singapore is Asia’s biggest oil-trading hub and the world’s largest bunkering port. Its surrounding waters are among the busiest global sea lanes.
Malaysia’s coast guard said on Sunday that aerial surveys conducted by the coast guard found minor traces of an oil spill at the location of the collision between the Ceres I and the Hafnia Nile, which occurred in the waters about 55 km (35 miles) northeast of the Singaporean island of Pedra Branca.
“The environment department has been informed and will conduct further monitoring,” it said.