As an oil producing nation, Indonesia has manufactured various types of goods made of plastics, whose basic ingredient is crude petroleum.
Despite several benefits that plastics have offered and made life easier, plastic use has environmental consequences, such as land and marine pollution due to plastic waste and deaths of wildlife after ingesting plastics or becoming entangled in plastic trash.
Plastic has toxic pollutants that harm the environment and cause land, water, and air pollution. It can take hundreds or also thousands of years for plastic to break down, so damage to the environment is long-lasting.
As to dangers it poses to wildlife, recent public outcry and protests erupted against the effects on wildlife from ingesting or becoming trapped in plastic debris.
In Indonesia, three sea turtles were found dead some 150 meters off Pari Island, Seribu (One Thousand) Islands District, Jakarta, on November 27, 2018, apparently due to plastic litter found in their mouths and front claws.
On Nov 19, a carcass of a 9.5-meter-long sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) was discovered by local fishermen, as it was washed ashore the Kapota Isle, Wakatobi District, Southeast Sulawesi. A total of 5.9 kilograms of plastic waste were found in the whale`s stomach, including flip-flops and 115 drinking cups.
As concern over plastic waste is mounting, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has ordered inclusion of plastic waste education in the school curriculum.
"In cooperation with the Education and Culture Ministry, we will include it in the curriculum, from kindergarten to senior high schools," Pandjaitan noted at a press conference on November 30, 2018.
The public should understand the dangers of plastic waste for which children should be made aware of the dangers of plastic waste from an early age.
Plastic waste education was imparted in 13 provinces this year, and next year, 34 provinces will be covered for the same.
Plastic waste education is a program, which is part of Presidential Regulation No. 83 of 2018 on Marine Waste Handling.
However, plastic waste education will not be a new lesson but will be added to several modules.
Nani Hendiarti, assistant to deputy in charge of maritime science and technology application of the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs office, remarked that school modules on plastic waste are being prepared by the Education and Culture Ministry.
"Concretely, it is also included in the existing lessons, depending on their grades. For kindergarten students, for instance, it will be presented through games, pictures, etc," she added.
Meanwhile, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry (KKP) and relevant ministries have been urged to forge synergy to address the plastic waste problem in oceans.
This is because Indonesia is the world`s largest archipelagic country located between the Pacific and Indians Oceans.
"The (KKP) should synergize with the Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry, Trade Ministry, and Industry Ministry to ensure that existing regulations are optimally implemented and familiarized in the public," Abdul Halim, executive director of the Maritime Study Center for Humanity, noted recently.
The ministry should also establish cooperation with industries to draft a road map to reduce plastic use.
He also suggested that the government should offer incentives to industries applying plastic-free trade or business innovation.
It takes more than 500 years to degrade plastic, he remarked, adding that plastic use should hence be reduced in order to prevent plastic waste from polluting the oceans.
In fact, KKP Minister Susi Pudjiastuti has called to ban single-use plastic products in order to help the government achieve its target of reducing 70 percent of the plastic waste in the ocean by 2025.
"I call on the ladies and gentlemen to stop using single-use plastic products," she noted recently.
If plastic waste is not reduced, there would be more plastic waste than fish in the ocean by 2030, she added.
She expressed concern that Indonesia is the second-largest contributor of plastic waste in the ocean, after China.
"Marine debris is creating massive problems for humankind," the minister said.
The ministry has applied all necessary measures to its maximum capability, including by continuously campaigning about it, she remarked.
A concern over plastic waste was also voiced by President Joko Widodo at the East Asia Summit in Singapore on November 15, 2018.
Seas and oceans are the future of all countries, so their preservation is the responsibility of everyone in the world.
Editing by Yoseph Hariyadi