JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo has urged cities across the country to set up waste-to-energy plants this year to tackle the country's growing mountain of trash, according to a statement published on the cabinet secretary's website on Tuesday.
The world's fourth-most populous country with 260 million people generates huge amounts of garbage and, according to a 2015 study published in Science journal, was the world’s second-biggest contributor of plastic pollutants in the oceans.
In the same statement, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said cities including Jakarta, Surabaya, Bekasi and Solo had pledged to build such plants, which incinerate trash to drive turbines to create power.
"This is not about the electricity, this is about taking care of the trash," Widodo said on the cabinet secretary's website, where he also questioned why there had not been more progress.
The president issued a regulation in April last year pushing regions to set up eco-friendly plants to turn waste into electricity.
According to a February energy ministry statement, 12 waste-to-energy power plants were due to be operating by 2022 and combined should create up to 234 megawatts of electricity using 16,000 tons of waste a day.
Indonesia's archipelago of more than 17,000 islands has struggled to cope with waste, with much of it going into landfill and often eventually seeping out to pollute rivers and oceans.
Indonesia has also become the latest Southeast Asian country to send back trash amid a spike in imports from Western countries after China banned imports, disrupting the global flow of millions of tonnes of waste each year.
As part of efforts to reduce pollution, Indonesia has also sought to put a levy on plastic bags but this has been delayed by parliament after complaints from industry.
Anung, the cabinet secretary, said on the website that Bekasi, a satellite city of more than two million people near Jakarta, generated 1,700 tonnes of waste a day.
(Reporting by Tabita Diela; Editing by Ed Davies and Jane Merriman)