"Therefore, I call on all the people to reduce the use of plastic bags and to stop littering," she said.
Speaking to the local residents during her visit to observe a community-based waste management in Tembokrejo Village of the Muncar Port area, Pudjiastuti said the capacity of the temporary dumpsite in the village needed to be increased, followed by training for the villagers on how to separate organic and inorganic waste in order to involve more people in managing it, she said.
"If the capacity of the dumpsite increases, it can be developed to become an industry. But most importantly, the local people should continuously be educated over keeping their neighborhoods clean and ensuring a disease-free environment," she said.
Pudjiastuti said she appreciated the implementation of waste management in Muncar subdistrict's coastal areas, which saw the involvement of several thousand local residents.
Citing the Muncar Port in Banyuwangi District as an example, she said she previously would avoid the area as it reeked. Thanks to the Bunyuwangi District head, who persuaded her to return, she could now spot visible differences. The area no longer smelled of garbage as its temporary dumpsite was well managed by local residents assisted by the district government and an NGO, funded by Norway and Austria, she said.
"This is a good example of how local governments can play a role. I hope this way of handling waste will be imitated by other villages," Pudjiastuti said.
The menace of marine debris has continued to plague Indonesia over the past decades. Last year, the country was witness to a grim reality, with the recent death of a sperm whale who ingested almost six kilograms of plastic waste.
The news of the ill-fated sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), whose carcass washed ashore on Kapota Isle, Wakatobi District, Southeast Sulawesi Province, on November 19, 2018, had grabbed the attention of several mainstream media within and outside the country.
This environmental tragedy, widely published and broadcast by the world's reputable news media, such as Associated Press, CNN, The Guardian, and National Geographic, is a glaring reminder of the fact that plastic waste has become a serious menace for Indonesia.
The marine debris has not just threatened the existence of Indonesia's marine life but it has also tarnished the image of its tourism industry.
EDITED BY INE