- Title: From rice fields to trash fields: Indonesian farmers find profit in pollution
- Date: 16th August 2019
- Summary: MOJOKERTO, EAST JAVA PROVINCE, INDONESIA (RECENT - JULY 28, 2019) (REUTERS) RUBBISH BEING DUMPED BY TRUCK ONTO GROUND VARIOUS OF A WORKER CHECKING THROUGH RUBBISH PILE PLASTIC PACKAGING FOR WOOD PELLETS, WITH A COMPANY ADDRESS IN CANADA AND READING (English, French): "ECO-FRIENDLY RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE" PLASTIC PACKAGING WITH A COMPANY ADDRESS IN CONNECTICUT TRUCK DRIVING AWAY, SURROUNDED BY PILES OF RUBBISH VARIOUS OF WOMEN SORTING THROUGH RUBBISH ELDERLY WOMAN LOOKING DOWN AS SHE SORTS THROUGH RUBBISH HANDS DIGGING THROUGH RUBBISH PILE OF SQUASHED DRINK CANS FARMER SITI MAIMANAH WEARING MASK AS SHE SORTS THROUGH CANS VARIOUS OF MAIMANAH'S HANDS SORTING THROUGH CANS (SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) INDONESIAN FARMER, SITI MAIMANAH, SAYING: "I used to be a farmer and now I'm sorting rubbish simply because I get more by sorting rubbish than I do by farming. If I'm farming, I need to wait three months to get results, but if I'm sorting rubbish, we can make money in a day, two days or even a week." WOMEN ON MAIMANAH'S FARM SORTING THROUGH RUBBISH (SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) INDONESIAN FARMER, SITI MAIMANAH, SAYING: "In one week, you can earn more than 500,000 rupiah ($35), sometimes more than one million rupiah ($70) if there's more rubbish than usual. If there's no rubbish, the minimum they (workers) can earn is 100,000 to 200,000 rupiah ($7-14) (per week) whereas farming needs them to wait," WOMEN ON MAIMANAH'S FARM SORTING THROUGH RUBBISH WOMAN DUMPING COLLECTED RUBBISH INTO BAG MAN RAKING GROUND COVERED IN RUBBISH WORKER WALKING THROUGH GREEN PADDY FIELDS, PILE OF RUBBISH IN FOREGROUND RICE CROP IN PADDY FIELDS FARMER, MAK BANA, MAKING SOUNDS TO DRIVE AWAY BIRDS GRASS (SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia, Javanese) INDONESIAN FARMER, MAK BANA SAYING: "If I'm working by sorting rubbish, I can earn about 40,000 to 50,000 ($2.80-3.50) a day so you can count how much I have. If I am taking care of these (rice fields), we only can harvest the crop every three months. So, we can use the money from sorting rubbish for daily expenses and also to buy fertilizer, so we don't need to get loan for it, right?" BANA WALKING THROUGH FIELD, MAKING SOUNDS TO DRIVE AWAY BIRDS VARIOUS OF WORKERS COVERING CROP WITH NET TO STOP BIRDS FARMER WALKING THROUGH HIS PADDY FIELDS SURABAYA, INDONESIA (RECENT - JULY 12, 2019) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF U.S. CONSULATE U.S. FLAG FLYING BOY HOLDING INDONESIAN FLAG WHILE SHOUTING (English): "TAKE BACK YOUR TRASH" IMPORTED TRASH ON IN PILE ON FLOOR BOY WAVING INDONESIAN FLAG LABEL ON PLASTIC BOTTLE READING (English): "IMITATION VANILLA FLAVOR" AND "PACKED IN U.S.A." POLICE STANDING NEXT TO PROTESTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) ECOTON PROTEST COORDINATOR, PRIGI ARISANDI, SAYING: "Our country has been labelled a dirty country as we are the second largest contributor of waste in the world after China, so the sea has been polluted by China. We already know that Indonesia is dirty, and now America is adding their rubbish on top, which means America doesn't care about Indonesia and is very unethical. The relations between the countries (are good) but sending this garbage is clearly a violation of the law."
- Embargoed: 30th August 2019 01:41
- Keywords: Rubbish paddy fields Surabaya pollution plastic rubbish dumps Waste imported trash environment Mojokerto
- Location: MOJOKERTO AND SURABAYA, EAST JAVA, INDONESIA
- City: MOJOKERTO AND SURABAYA, EAST JAVA, INDONESIA
- Country: Indonesia
- Topics: Pollution,Environment,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA002ASGU1QF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Once home to rice farmers and their luscious green paddy fields, this Indonesian village is now a dump for truckloads of rubbish.
As Indonesia looks to tackle the country's growing mountain of trash, the residents of East Java's 200-hectare Bangun village have found a way to reel in profit from the problem - by opening their gates to garbage trucks and choosing to turn their fertile fields into rubbish sorting plots.
The health and environmental repercussions for Bangun village might be huge, said non-government organization, Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation (ECOTON), which has been observing the issue in the area for the last five years.
Now, more than 60 percent of the village residents have opted to enter the rubbish sorting business, and for the timebeing, that looks unlikely to drop.
"If I'm farming, I need to wait three months to get results, but if I'm sorting rubbish, we can make money in a day, two days or even a week," said one farmer, Siti Maimanah.
On average, a worker in Bangun can earn between $7-14 per week picking through the sea of paper and plastic, and that can rise to $35 if the piles are particularly high - a tempting proposition when the farming alternative would leave them waiting with nothing for weeks on weeks, said Maimanah.
Ecoton said it has obtained evidence that the garbage in the area is imported from at least 54 countries around the world, including Europe, the United States, Australia and Asia, under the pretence it is 'paper waste'. Reuters found plastic packaging amongst the piles, including from Canada and the United States.
That's adding on top of the huge amount of garbage the world's fourth-most populous country with 260 million people generates on its own.
Earlier this year, the city of Surabaya sent back more than 200 tonnes of trash to Australia and U.S. as part of efforts to push back 'foreign trash' amid a spike in imports from Western countries after China banned imports.
"Our country has been labelled a dirty country and now America is adding their rubbish on top. Sending this garbage is clearly a violation of the law," said Ecoton's protest coordinator, Prigi Arisandi, during a recent protest in front of the U.S. consulate in Indonesia's second biggest city, Surabaya.
The archipelago of more than 17,000 islands has been struggling to cope with the waste, with much of it going into landfill and often eventually seeping out to pollute rivers and oceans. According to a 2015 study published in Science journal, Indonesia was the world's second-biggest contributor of plastic pollutants in the oceans.
The mountain of trash in Bangun village is also not going to vanish overnight despite government's efforts and plan to set up waste-to-energy plants across the country.
And for now, Indonesians like Maimanah say their day-to-day survival is far more important than environment.
(Production: Prasto Wardoyo, Heru Asprihanto, Angie Teo, Natasha Howitt)
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