A child rides a bicycle near the severely polluted Pisang Batu River in Bekasi district, West Java, on Jan. 8. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

River of Garbage

BY :YUDHA BASKORO

JANUARY 13, 2019

The Pisang Batu River flowing through Pahlawan Setia village in Bekasi district, West Java, turned into a 1.5-kilometer-long garbage canal on Jan. 5, after it became choked with discarded plastic and household items believed to have originated further upstream.

The local authorities have embarked on a cleanup operation to remove the garbage, using two excavators and several trucks. About 700 metric tons of waste have so far been removed from the small river, which was previously overgrown by water hyacinths, a highly invasive aquatic plant native to tropical and subtropical South America.

While it is still common in Indonesia to use rivers for waste disposal, there is increasing public awareness to refrain from this practice. Besides the environmental cost and associated health risks, the pollution also causes flooding during heavy rain.

A garbage collector seen walking along the banks of the Pisang Batu River on Jan. 8. Indonesia is reportedly the second-largest marine polluter after China, as most of the plastic waste in the rivers eventually end up in the ocean. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A garbage collector seen walking along the banks of the Pisang Batu River on Jan. 8. Indonesia is reportedly the second-largest marine polluter after China, as most of the plastic waste in the rivers eventually end up in the ocean. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

 

An aerial view of the garbage-covered river. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
An aerial view of the garbage-covered river. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

 

Indonesia has embarked on a challenging journey to reduce marine plastic pollution by 70 percent within the next six years. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Indonesia has embarked on a challenging journey to reduce marine plastic pollution by 70 percent within the next six years. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

 

A resident crossing a bridge over the heavily polluted river. Southeast Asia's largest economy generates between 0.48 million and 1.29 million metric tons of plastic marine debris annually. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A resident crossing a bridge over the heavily polluted river. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

 

The local government is using excavators to remove garbage and silt from the river. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
The local government is using excavators to remove garbage and silt from the river. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

 

A view of the Pisang Batu River on Jan. 8. According to a report by the Indonesian Plastic Industry Association (Inaplas) and the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Indonesia generates about 64 million tons of plastic waste annually, with 3.2 million tons of that ending up in the sea and around 85,000 tons in the environment. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A view of the Pisang Batu River on Jan. 8. According to a report by the Indonesian Plastic Industry Association (Inaplas) and the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the country generates about 64 million tons of plastic waste annually, with 3.2 million tons of that ending up in the sea and around 85,000 tons in the environment. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

 

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