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13-year-old Aeshnina Azzahra’s message to world leaders: Stop exporting plastic waste to Indonesia

Photo: AVPN

Much has happened in Aeshnina’s hometown since her parents were children. Back then, her parents could swim and fish in the river. Aeshnina also wants the opportunity to do so.

Aeshnina Azzahra was the keynote speaker at the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network’s virtual conference 2020. In this connection, a video was published in which Azzahra explains her efforts to fight plastic dumping in Indonesia and urges leaders of developed countries to stop exporting plastic waste to Indonesia.

Aeshnina Azzahra on her fight against the dumping of plastic waste in Indonesia. Video: AVPN

Aeshnina lives in an area that has major problems with illegally imported plastic waste. A large amount of this waste is of poor quality and cannot be recycled. Consequently, it is illegally dumped and incinerated or used as cheap fuel in factories, affecting both the environment and the living conditions of people in the area. In addition, the local recycling plants release large amounts of microplastics into the rivers around Aeshnina’s hometown. This could contaminate the food and water consumed by locals in the area, which, unfortunately, is also the reality in many other places in Indonesia and the rest of the world.

Also read: Danish plastic waste from households ends up in Malaysia

Reaches out to political leaders

Aeshnina is a resolute girl, and she has expressed her concerns to political leaders on several occasions and asked them to stop exporting waste to Indonesia.

Her efforts include sending letters to the American President Donald Trump, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the letters, Aeshnina explains the problems with plastic pollution in Indonesia and expresses her dreams for an Indonesia with less plastic pollution.

Western countries must take responsibility for their own plastic waste

It is time for us in the Western countries to take responsibility for the waste we produce.

From January 1st, 2020, a new amendment to the Basel Convention came into force. The amendment implies that receiving countries can refuse low-quality or hard-to-recycle plastic waste before it is even shipped, in order to stop contaminated waste from ending up in countries that do not have the resources to deal with it.

This is, of course, an important step along the way, but many more measures need to be introduced. At Plastic Change, we recommend the next step to be an EU-ban on all plastic waste exports outside of Europe. This will allow us to take full responsibility for our own waste. Furthermore, it will help us to ensure that our waste will not end up polluting in areas such as Aeshnina’s hometown, where she is currently unable to swim or catch healthy fish in the river.