Southeast Asia Dumping Ground as an Unfair Responsibility

by: Ica Wulansari

In recent month, we heard frequently Southeast Asia Nations reject import plastic rubbish from wealthy nations. Some countries in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippine become the location of where wealthy nations` plastic waste go to the rest. But, most of Southeast Asian countries decided to send back this plastic trash. Meanwhile, Indonesian government has imposed a ban on import plastic waste from Western countries.

This situation tell us that plastic waste crisis has dramatically increasing and urgently needed enough place to piled up. First of all, this crisis started by China`s policy to stop importing plastic rubbish due to China has desired overcoming pollution troubles. After that, wealthy countries that dominated by Western countries have serious problem to cope with their much of plastic waste. In contrary, wealthy nations had voiced loudly in terms of eco lifestyle such as minimizing disposable products. In fact, western countries are overwhelmed to solve plastic waste that indicated by sending plastic rubbish to other countries usually to developing countries. On the other hand, wealthy countries` action to export plastic trash to developing countries are the shape of environmentally unfriendly.

Consumerism consume disposable products
Wealthy nations are situated in high consumtion society that all kind of products are practical. Furthermore, primary needs such as food and beverage products are designed through disposable products, easy to grab and practical. Instead, that lifestyle has serious impact to produce massive plastic trash. This lifestyle is meet the need of modern society in capitalism arena.

The consumerism lifestyle have implication to give big burden to ecosystem. Nowadays, we can easily detect these impact of plastic waste to the waters such as river, sea and the ocean. Furthermore, this plastic waste cause suffering and even the death of animals. For example the death of whales due to enormous plastic in their digestion are spread rapidly and massively through social media and news channel.

Beside waters ecosystem, we can easily plastic waste in the agriculture land area, such packaging of pesticide products or food and beverage products. In public area, it is not difficult to find the plastic waste. Generally, we live closely to plastic packaging and all of us have contributted to become waste producers every single day.

Environmental Justice
After we realized on this crisis, there is global campaign to reduce plastic consumption. The various plastic consumption including plastic for shopping, packaging all kind of products, especially food and beverage products. In, some regions, local government has implemented the rule that plastic shopping bag are payable. Then, consumers should pay plastic shopping bag or bring their own shopping bag. Slowly but sure, the using of shopping bag on their own will bring new practice in the society to reduce consuming plastic shopping bag.

Besides that, some beverage corner offering priceless of drink if the consumers bring their own tumbler. This practice is similar to using their own shopping bag that focus to individual responsibility to apply eco friendly lifestyle. Global campaign voice individual responsibility to concern and change their action to be eco friendly. However, I myself questioning: How about the corporations responsibility? Why global campaign is not focused to encourage corporation responsibility?

In fact, Western countries, global organizations or campaigner speak up less plastic usage, campaigning eco friendly lifestyle, provoke to buying sustainable product or even recycling waste. However, why do they solve the problem of their plastic waste on their own? Why should they send their plastic waste to developing countries? Unless, western countries campaign related to environmentally friendly then they should maintain their plastic waste. Meanwhile, they have been campaigning environmentally friendly but at the same time they apllied the principle of NIMBY (not in my back yard). In this point, that global order has showed unfair responsibility in terms of environmentally treatment. Moreover, the gap relation between developed countries and developing countries are related to waste production, trade and disposal. This order has built  that developing countries ‘should’ accommodate waste product from developed countries. In this position, I would like to say that Southeast Asian nations especially Indonesia is not homeland for developed countries` waste.

On the other hand, today, we need to encourage individual responsibility to consume less plastic bag and less disposable product. Absolutely, we have to change gradually to become eco friendly consumer. However, beside consumers, the main actor who has significant responsibility is corporations. They have to create and distribute ecological product. Meanwhile, ecological product will be followed the consequence of high price of product. But at the same time, corporations should be responsible their residual of plastic waste produced by them.


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