The Indonesian president tells the cities to build waste-to-energy plants

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JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo has urged cities across the country to establish this year's waste-to-energy plants to tackle the country's growing mountain of garbage, according to a statement published Tuesday on the secretary's website.

Indonesian current president Joko Widodo, who was re-elected in the April election, giving a speech to highlight his vision for the next five years in Bogor, West Java province, Indonesia, July 14, 2019. REUTERS / Willy Kurniawan

The fourth most populous country in the world with 260 million people generates huge amounts of garbage and, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Science, was the second largest contributor to the world of plastic pollutants in the oceans.

In the same statement, cabinet secretary Pramono Anung said that cities like Jakarta, Surabaya, Bekasi and Solo had committed to building such facilities, which incinerate garbage to drive turbines to create energy.

"It's not about electricity, it's about taking care of the garbage," Widodo said on the cabinet secretary's website, where he also questioned why there had been no further progress.

Last April the president issued a regulation that pushed the regions to create eco-compatible plants to transform waste into electricity.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Energy in February, by 2022, 12 thermoelectric power plants were needed to produce energy from waste and to combine up to 234 megawatts of electricity with 16,000 tons of waste per day.

The Indonesian archipelago of over 17,000 islands has struggled to cope with waste, with most of which ends up in landfills and often ends up filtering rivers and oceans.

Indonesia has also become the last country in Southeast Asia to postpone garbage in a peak in imports from Western countries after China banned imports, interrupting the global flow of millions of tons each year of waste.

As part of efforts to reduce pollution, Indonesia has also tried to impose a levy on plastic bags, but this has been delayed by parliament after complaints from the industry.

Anung, the cabinet secretary, said on the website that Bekasi, a satellite city of over two million people near Jakarta, has generated 1,700 tons of waste a day.

Reporting of Tabita Diela; Editing by Ed Davies and Jane Merriman

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