The Indonesian government has mobilised its armed forces to help clean up rivers and canals that are clogged with dense masses of plastic bottles, bags and other packaging. The commander of a military unit in Bandung even described plastic as “our biggest enemy.”
Initiatives are already in place to try and resolve the crisis by creating “eco-villages” where residents can trade in plastics for a small amount of money, although officials recognise that systemic cultural shifts are needed to resolve the crisis.
Does the fact the armed forces have been deployed mark a new phase in the scale of the plastics crisis? Does plastic waste now pose an existential threat to communities as well as waterways? What cultural and economic shifts are needed to resolve the crisis?