Press Release : Environmental Activists Urge Consulate Of Japan Stop Sending Plastic Waste To Indonesia

Surabaya (04/04) – A group of 20 environmental activists, a collaborative action from Ecoton and a combination of students from Brawijaya University, Sunan Ampel State Islamic University Surabaya, Seventeen August University Surabaya performed a theatrical action in front of the Japanese Consulate General in Surabaya. This theatrical action aims to encourage the Japanese government to stop sending plastic waste to Indonesia. The young activists brought piles of imported plastic waste from Japan which were held in front of the gate as a form of protest against the entry of Japanese waste into Indonesia. In fact, Japan is the second largest exporter of plastic waste in the world after Germany.

Collaborative Action Coordinator, Alaika Rahmatullah, conveyed that the entry of plastic waste was through smuggling in paper import activities. Based on data from UN Comtrade from 2020 to 2023, Japan has sent plastic waste to Indonesia with an average of 1.5 million kilograms per month. Findings of imported waste were also found in Pagak sub-district, Malang Regency and in 2 villages in Sidoarjo Regency which were used as waste dumpsites, namely Gedangrowo village and Bangun village.

“Sending plastic waste to developing countries like Indonesia is not only an unethical act, but also creates serious impacts on river ecosystems and health,” said Alaika, who also serves as Ecoton’s Education Division.

Gaps in Entry of Imported Waste

Ecoton’s investigation revealed a gap in the entry of this waste through import activities for the raw material needed for used paper in East Java. It turned out that it was infiltrated by plastic waste and household waste with a percentage of 30%. Data from UN Comtrade regarding Paper Waste Exporters to Indonesia 2022, Japan sent 235,203 tons of paper waste to Indonesia. This is one of the 6 largest sending countries for paper waste in Indonesia. Statista data reveals that Japan has sent 12.46 million kilograms of plastic waste throughout 2023, this number is considered to have increased from the previous year which only amounted to 10.67 million kilograms of plastic waste.

Japan’s plastic waste exports in 2020 reached 26,718,625 kg or 1,214 of container size 40 feet. Export of plastic waste HSCODE 391530 must be prohibited from trading because it is PVC plastic which can release dioxin when heated or burned. Plastic waste 391590 must also be banned because it is a mixed plastic that is highly contaminated and contains PVC which cannot be recycled.

Imported Waste Poisons Rivers with Microplastics and Dioxins in East Java

This imported plastic waste brings bad consequences to the environment with the threat of microplastic contamination and hormone-disrupting toxins in Indonesian rivers, especially in the Brantas River which is the source of raw water for PDAMs in the cities of Surabaya, Gresik, Sidoarjo.

Rafika Aprilianti, Head of the Ecoton Laboratory, said that these microplastics include plastic crumbs measuring less than 5 mm. This is very dangerous because chemically it has a chain of open chemical bonds that can bind surrounding pollutants such as heavy metals, pesticides, detergents. Even the materials that make up plastic are dangerous because they contain hormone-disrupting chemical compounds including phthalates, BPA and perfluorinated compounds which have the potential to cause cancer in humans.

Meanwhile, research from the 2022 Nusantara River Expedition stated that the Brantas River was the river most contaminated with microplastics among the 68 National Strategic Rivers throughout Indonesia.

“This imported waste comes in because of paper factories, there are 12 paper factories that use imported waste as raw materials. “The factory dumps liquid waste mixed with microplastics into the Brantas River,” stressed Rafika Aprilianti.

Apparently some of this imported plastic waste ended up in the Tropodo tofu manufacturing factory. Ecoton 2023 research, water, air, tofu in the Tropodo area were positively contaminated with microplastics. Not to mention, smoke from burning plastic waste can also trigger the release of dioxin and furan compounds. Both are carcinogenic compounds that trigger cancer and lungs.

Urges the Japanese Consulate General to stop sending plastic waste to Indonesia, Japan must be able to process its own waste

Seeing this bad disaster for the East Java environment. Ecoton urges the Japanese government to stop sending plastic waste to Indonesia. Japan must also be responsible for environmental damage caused by plastic waste, domestic waste which has polluted the water and air in East Java.

“Japan as a developed country has a moral responsibility to treat its waste responsibly and respect human rights, because the people of East Java also need access to clean and healthy water free from microplastics,” said Azis.

Apart from that, Dr. Daru Setyorini, M.Sc. The Executive Director of Ecoton stated that Japan, as a rich and developed country, should have better capabilities in processing and recycling plastic waste. Japan must recycle its own plastic waste and stop exporting waste to other countries, especially Indonesia, which is unable to process its own domestic waste. Japan must be a pioneer in developed countries who are responsible for processing their country’s waste and stop the colonization of plastic pollution into developing countries. Japan must stop sending plastic waste for recycling, because plastic recycling is not done safely and compromises the health of the environment and surrounding communities. Recycling releases huge carbon emissions because plastic is made from petroleum and contains very toxic chemical additives, disrupt hormones, and trigger cancer which threatens life and poisons the ecosystem in Indonesia.

The Japan’s Imported Waste Data by ECOTON Foundation

1. Japan’s plastic waste that sent to ASIA (2020-2023)

(Sumber: UN Comtrade, 2023)


2. Japan’s plastic waste that sent to Indonesia (in Kg) per months (2020 – 2023)

(Sumber: UN Comtrade, 2023)


3. Japan’s plastic waste that sent to Indonesia (in Ton) 2022

(Sumber: UN Comtrade, 2022)


  1. Countries Exporting and Importing plastic waste

(Sumber: Statista, 2020)


  1. Japan’s waste plastic data in Indonesia from 2017-2022

(Sumber: UN Comtrade, 2022)


  1. The biggest plastic waste exporting country in the world 2023

(Sumber: Good Stats, 2023)

  • Jerman: 853,8 Million Kg
  • Jepang: 820,7 Million Kg
  • Amerika Serikat: 624,5 Million Kg
  • Inggris : 560,9 Million Kg
  • Belanda : 413,2 Million Kg
  • Belgia : 346,2 Million Kg
  • Perancis : 333,7 Million Kg


  1. Japan’s plastic waste that sent to Indonesia from 2017-2023

(Sumber: Statista, 2024)


  1. Comparative Data on Solid Waste from Indonesia to Japan (Case Studies) 2011

(Sumber: Andreadakis, et al., 2011)


  1. The list of the countries that sent plastic waste to Asia 2022

(Sumber: Our World in Data, 2022)


Interpretation of Plastic Waste Exporter Data based on the ASIA continent from Our World in Data in 2022

  • Jepang : 563,455 ton
  • China : 53,214 ton
  • Filipina : 91,551 ton
  • Turkey : 19,366 ton
  • Malaysia : 16,045 ton


Contact Person :

ALAIKA RAHMATULLAH – +6283114966417

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