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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat TheRealKW's Avatar
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    The Indonesian village being buried by the developed world’s waste

    Plastic waste piles up head high outside a row of homes in Bangun village. (Photo: Jack Board)



    By Jack Board@JackBoardCNA

    07 Jul 2019 06:18AM(Updated: 07 Jul 2019 10:15AM)Share this content

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    SURABAYA, Indonesia: The village of Bangun is surrounded by greenery - stretches of lush paddy fields and a slow-moving river. But within its confines, a dystopian environment of piles of waste, black smoke and twisted metal has emerged.


    Locals traipse through street blocks entirely consumed by discarded household goods, food packaging and personal care products. Slowly, this village is being swallowed by the plastic of the developed world.


    READ: Malaysia moves to reap the benefits of processing global plastic waste





    Even though the surroundings look grim, most villagers here welcome the plastic. They have become addicted to the jumble sitting outside their front doors and inside their garden courtyards, despite the damage to the aesthetics of their home and the potential impact on their health.

    Farming the fields has become secondary for many who now rely on the income that is possible from picking through never-diminishing mountains formed by drinking water bottles from Korea and biscuit packets from the UK. Others have sold their land or repurposed it for this new occupation.


    “I used to just be a farmer but then I decided to sort garbage. It’s quite profitable and I can earn money once a week,” said Supriadi, a 42-year-old local, as he scavenged through a small sea of colourful scraps outside his house.
    A local man works to process plastic waste in land designated for waste dumping in Bangun. (Photo: Jack Board)

    As he spoke, a truck from a nearby factory arrived to deliver an entire load of new plastic for him to examine. It lifted its tray and offloaded an enormous heap all across his small flank of land.

    READ: Indonesia to return 49 containers of waste to Europe, US


    It looks like garbage, but everything has value. Supriadi paid for this delivery, he explained, and expects to at least double his money once he picks through it for prized items, like metal scraps from cans and wiring. Whatever is left can be sold to local tofu factories which burn plastic for fuel.

    “I have no idea where all this garbage comes from and if they are actually from foreign countries. All I care about is that we need money,” said Supriandi’s neighbour, Mbah Bodo.

    Bangun could be a poster child for the failings of the global recycling system. Yet its place at the centre of Indonesia’s plastic battle is long entrenched.

    READ: Commentary: Recycling makes you feel less guilty but doesn’t change how huge our plastic problem is


    Plastic began to filter into the lives of locals in Mojokerto regency, about 40 kilometres from Indonesia’s second-largest city Surabaya, decades ago as industrial development began to encroach on agricultural land.

    Today, Bangun is in the vicinity of four paper mills, which spew thick fumes into the air through tall exhaust towers. Factories like these across Indonesia are major importers of waste paper, to produce things like industrial packaging, chipboard and corrugated cardboard.

    But increasingly, and especially since last year, shipments arriving at Indonesia’s ports from around the world have contained dirty secrets.
    Between 40 and 50 trucks bring about 75 tonnes of waste every day to Mojokerto Regency. (Photo: Jack Board)

    READ: G20 agrees to tackle ocean plastic waste


    GLOBAL CONFUSION

    The shipments are being packed full of other items - the waste ending up in Mojokerto - and are taking advantage of Indonesia’s lenient import policies.

    Based on extensive field research, environmental non-government organisation Ecoton estimates that about 20 per cent of a typical waste paper shipment is made up of other items, normally the type thrown out for recycling by households and businesses in other countries.

    Under a decree by the Trade Ministry from 2016, paper scrap is permitted to enter the country without being subject to inspection by authorities. Other items, like garbage, are not meant to be allowed to enter Indonesia.

    “This is smuggling. This is illegal. It’s unhealthy,” said Ecoton’s executive director, Prigi Arisandi. He says historically, contaminant levels might have expected to be purely incidental - about 2 per cent - not a deliberate injection of garbage for Indonesia to contend with.

    But the system changed after China made a decision in January last year that saw the world’s recycling system thrown off its axis.
    Indonesia has seen an explosion of waste entering the country since China stopped plastic imports. (Photo: Jack Board)

    Long the collectors and custodians of much of the plastic waste from around the world, China’s decision to stop importing such items set off confusion among other countries reliant on shipping their recycling there.

    China was conscious of the environmental degradation happening locally to its air and water and subsequently shut its doors.

    In the wake of the policy shift, recycling items began to visibly stack up in places like the United States and Australia, and a solution would soon be forged in Southeast Asia by importers keen to claim a stake in the lucrative trade. Processing certain materials remains highly profitable and much is still sold on to China in cleaner forms.

    The amount of plastic suddenly being re-routed to countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines exploded. In just two years, the waste plastic import figures increased by 171 per cent among ASEAN nations, according to a study by Greenpeace.

    READ: Malaysia, flooded with plastic waste, to send back some scrap to source


    READ: Canada has no plans to take back plastic waste in Malaysia



    Rice paddies edge close to areas used for plastic sorting. (Photo: Jack Board)
    In Malaysia, where several Chinese operators were documented to have begun operations, the impact was profound with imports in 2018 reaching 872,897 tonnes, a more than 300 per cent increase from 2016.
    In Indonesia, the amount surged nearly 250 per cent over just 12 months, with the biggest contributors being the US, Canada, Italy, South Korea and the UK. It was a burden that the country, already struggling to contend with its own domestic waste and the second worst contributor to ocean plastic, was not ready for.
    “Indonesia is in the phase of emergency for plastic problems.” Muharram Atha Rasyadi, the Urban People Power Campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia, told CNA.
    “We are overwhelmed to handle domestic waste so there is no room for additional waste from foreign countries.”
    Household packaging and personal hygiene products from around the world have wound up in Mojokerto. (Photo: Jack Board)

    FIGHTING BACK
    As reality has started to bite and communities feel the strain of garbage invading their land across the region, a pushback has begun.

    In the Philippines, renewed pressure and brinkmanship on the behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte resulted in 69 containers of waste being repatriated to Canada, after it sat stranded and stinking at a Manila port for months. The 2,400 tonnes of waste had been mislabelled as plastics for recycling.

    Amid the ensuing diplomatic row, President Duterte made it clear his country would not tolerate becoming a dumping ground for the world’s waste. In his usual firebrand style, he threatened to go to war with Canada, or hand deliver the containers back himself.

    As the shipment set sail for home last month, it was trumpeted as a big victory for Southeast Asian countries, drawing a red line across a looming crisis.
    READ: Commentary: Why recycling, less single-use plastics are not the answers to our plastic scourge


    Indonesia has been struggling to contend with its own domestic waste, let alone plastic from overseas. (Photo: Jack Board)

    Since then, Malaysia and Indonesia have seized upon the momentum, with the former planning to send up to 3,000 tonnes of waste back to its origin. Last week Indonesia rejected 49 containers, reportedly including garbage and hazardous materials. Thailand is also planning to propose a blanket ban on plastic imports next year.

    But without proper regulations, environmentalists fear that sending back shipping containers will be only symbolic.

    “They just follow the trend. The Philippines sends, Malaysia sends, so yeah, we have to send too,” said Prigi Arisandi. He wants the Indonesian government to do proper environmental assessments of the impact of plastic, introduce national regulations and push for a unified ASEAN response to the problem.

    The Environment and Forestry Ministry has already said it would tighten rules about waste paper importation and crack down harder on those breaking the rules. Prigi said those profiteering from the “greed” of the business need to be held accountable.

    “The importers and exporters have the responsibility to tackle this problem. They already have an agreement, and they know there is plastic inside. They already know that plastic is the biggest problem for the globe.”
    Indonesian factories import millions of tonnes of waste paper every year, and increasingly the shipments contain waste. (Photo: Jack Board)

    ‘IT’S VERY SCARY FOR US’

    In Mojokerto, and the wider, heavily populated province of East Java, the concerns are rising. At stake are the impact on water, land, air, food and the cumulative effects on human health.

    There are health worries for the plastic-picking residents of Bangun and other similar villages. Medical checks are being performed on a regular basis but by the numbers, they reflect just a small number of people.

    More broadly though, there is a risk of microplastics - tiny pieces of plastic debris - spreading through a population of millions. Ecoton is conducting local research that paints an alarming picture for the future, especially given the proximity and strategic importance of the Brantas River.

    “It’s very scary for us because in the downstream we’re using this water as the raw material for our drinking water. Eighty per cent of our local fish is contaminated with microplastic,” Prigi said.
    READ: Toxic bacteria found on microplastics along Singapore's coastline


    Plastic began to filter into the lives of locals in Mojokerto regency during the 1970s. (Photo: Jack Board)

    “We have a problem with dioxins when we burn the plastic, We have chemical compounds in our soil because they’re dumping in the open ground and when it rains it absorbs into our water.

    “The microplastics are becoming a trojan horse, because they absorb the pesticides, the heavy metals and the detergents and they will go inside our food, our water, our body,” he said.
    Local authorities say the situation is frustrating - their small district is bearing the brunt of a global problem, and the locals seem to not mind at all.
    “They welcome the waste because it is profitable. It does not matter that it will harm their health,” said Mojokerto Regency Environmental Agency Head Zainul Arifin. “Paddy fields are converted into garbage. Residents sort the waste in front of their house.
    “It doesn’t matter if their house looks luxurious and they have a car, the waste sorting still takes place in front of their house. Some of them are even able to build a villa and send their kids to take doctorate degrees,” he said.
    Mbah Bodo says the community would be angry if the Indonesian government started rejecting plastic waste, or sending it back. (Photo: Jack Board)

    READ: ‘Cannot sell ... so they burn’: What’s next in the uncertain future for plastic waste in Singapore?

    Even if the risks are known, the locals are adamant that they are willing to ride the world’s trash wave to relative prosperity rather than look for an alternative. While most people might bemoan plastics being burnt in open pits in their neighbourhood, for Bangun it is seen as a blessing.
    “If we don't have garbage here to be sorted, it's going to be more dangerous because many of us will earn less or even lose our main income. That's not good for the society,” said Mbah Bodo.

    “If the government decides to send the trash back, it will cause turmoil. People will be angry. It's better to work like this rather than working in a factory. I'm free.”

    (Additional reporting by Winda Charmila)

    Source: CNA/jb


    https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/plastic-waste-recycling-indonesia-bangun-environment-11688000

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat David48atTD's Avatar
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    KW ... photos not showing.

    Maybe just me?
    “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat TheRealKW's Avatar
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    I think I cannot paste photos in the news until I reach 100 posts, or some such. But the words are the important aspect of this story.

  4. #4
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    Bali is chasing the tourist dollar. Since my first visit just over two years ago, plastic carrier bags are no longer available. If you forget your own bag, the minimart will sell you a recycled one for 6 - 12,000 IDR.

    The butchers still vacuum wrap meat in plastic though.

    Are you still teaching in Jakarta William?

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat VocalNeal's Avatar
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    Paper mils do not

    spew thick fumes into the air through tall exhaust towers
    They do have boiler houses and they do produce clouds of water vapour but....

    Spot the plume?

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/PT...!4d112.4620864

    This article is not much more than sensationalist journalism for a target audience.
    Better to think inside the pub, than outside the box?
    I apologize if any offence was caused. unless it was intended.
    You people, you think I know feck nothing; I tell you: I know feck all
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  6. #6
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    A lot of this is tied to how a country develops. In Koh Samui I would often wake to the sound of a local guy rooting through bags put out for refuse collection. Looking for glass and metal cans.

    They even had a processing line in the next village when I lived on the mainland. When my ex had a bar, a bloke would pay to take her empty bottles away.

    Not seen either for a few years. People, even with low skills have moved on to minimum wage jobs.

    I have split my time in Indonesia, between Bali and South Sumatra. Not looked closely at, or questioned refuse collection and disposal, but certainly witnessed people looking through roadside waste collections for valuables.

    I Germany 35 years ago, they had such advanced collection and disposal systems, they ended up with too much recycled waste!

    Just goes to show the obvious. Nations and people develop at a different pace.

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat VocalNeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Switch View Post
    When my ex had a bar, a bloke would pay to take her empty bottles away.
    There used to be a bar restaurant . Tivoli? Near the infamous late night bar on Sukhumvit (it will come to me?) One partner was Indian and saw all the bottles being taken out the back. Asked the manager. Reply was "Someone comes and takes them away"

    "They are worth money"..........

    A few days later the place was overrun with empties.
    Better to think inside the pub, than outside the box?
    I apologize if any offence was caused. unless it was intended.
    You people, you think I know feck nothing; I tell you: I know feck all
    Those who cannot change their mind, cannot change anything.

  8. #8
    Thailand Expat TheRealKW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Switch View Post

    Just goes to show the obvious. Nations and people develop at a different pace.
    Indeed they do. But the bigger issue is developed nations sending their shit to developing nations for a pittance.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRealKW View Post
    Indeed they do. But the bigger issue is developed nations sending their shit to developing nations for a pittance.
    ........ and allowing the developing nations to make a profit from it? Who does all the hot sweaty building work in Thailand? Imported labour,
    because the Thai aren't interested in heavy, dirty, dangerous work in tropical conditions.

    It's a bit like blaming the poorer undeveloped nations, for being poor. Should first world countries be allowed to send waste to poorer countries, or should they be obliged to send cash aid instead?

    Sooner or later, the third world will catch up, and there will be no market for shitty jobs that the west doesn't want. Wealthy nations need to realise that this method can't go on for ever, and they will have to put their own house in order.

    Meanwhile there is always India, happy to be exploited by anyone, provided they can turn a profit on the backs of poor desperate folk. It's a vicious circle Willie.

  10. #10
    Thailand Expat TheRealKW's Avatar
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    I have no problem with imported labour. But dumping in a country (Or using them for nuclear tests, such as various countries fucked up some Pacific Islands) is not a cycle, it's a one way street to decades long problems for the poor country.

  11. #11
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    It's a global problem Willie, not a national one. The UN can't police it, and no single nation will take it on. Things will change in time. Indonesia, on the surface at least is a secular country, but with a significant muslim population, who are not all hard liners. Allow education of women and the poor, and see the results. (Bangladesh) still poor but making progress.
    Singapore is the only asian country I can think of that has a social safety net for the poor, mainly because it's a small country and the secular rules have promoted education and a well regulated society.
    I don't know how long that kind of progress will take in the rest of Asia, but its not something that western culture can force on them.

    The nuclear testing issues were a colonial burp, but tat just deflects the problem by seeking to blame someone decades later. Non productive.

    As your OP points out, the people are desperate for work because work puts food on the table. Corrupt politics will not spend money on infrastructure to support their own waste, so why do they allow other countries to dump waste there? Money.

  12. #12
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    Absolutely agree that developed (wealthy) nations should keep their own crap and recycle as best as they can instead of sending it to poor countries. A few issues here - poor countries have people who buy this stuff and recycle it . . . another issue is that China used to take as much as possible, but can't use the huge amounts it recycled anymore . . . and is not accepting shipments, leaving mainly western nations to deal with it.

    The biggest problem is that by far the most garbage is being created by developing nations themselves . . .

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by panama hat View Post
    Absolutely agree that developed (wealthy) nations should keep their own crap and recycle as best as they can instead of sending it to poor countries. A few issues here - poor countries have people who buy this stuff and recycle it . . . another issue is that China used to take as much as possible, but can't use the huge amounts it recycled anymore . . . and is not accepting shipments, leaving mainly western nations to deal with it.

    The biggest problem is that by far the most garbage is being created by developing nations themselves . . .
    Do you lay the blame with western consumerism? No co-ordination of effort to recycle to a high standard? The west continues to consume raw material and even though it has some regulation for recycling of new product parts and the best high tech available, still do too little.

    Another global problem with a national approach to a bigger issue.

    When all the oil is gone, auto manufacturers will be allowed to make cars that run on renewables. Until then, only consumers can vote with their feet.

  14. #14
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Switch View Post
    Do you lay the blame with western consumerism? No co-ordination of effort to recycle to a high standard? The west continues to consume raw material and even though it has some regulation for recycling of new product parts and the best high tech available, still do too little.

    Another global problem with a national approach to a bigger issue.

    When all the oil is gone, auto manufacturers will be allowed to make cars that run on renewables. Until then, only consumers can vote with their feet.
    To a certain extent yes, the western consumer is certainly part of the problem, but what catches the news (containers) is minuscule compared to the garbage left un-recycled or even uncollected in Asia, mainly.

    The west became rich and powerful on the back of polluting the earth . . . should the rest of the world be 'allowed' to do the same.

    No answers here, just suggesting that the problem lies in Asia and its lack of education, government controls and the basic willingness to not pollute

    (Don't get me wrong, I'm quite shocked that New Zealand does so little in this respect as well)

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    I understand the point, but this piecemeal approach cannot work. One of the wealthiest countries on earth is trying to diversify, but has only one high tech but simple energy recovery system. That facility can only deal with 10% of the capitals waste. Conspicuous consumption. Once the facility is built, it is self funding via recycling and the cleanest energy recovery system yet invented.
    If the worlds wealthiest country can’t do more, how do you expect Asia to keep up?

  16. #16
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    If the worlds wealthiest country can’t do more, how do you expect Asia to keep up?


    In this case the world's wealthiest country isn't too focussed on recycling, but yes - no need to wait for others to start






  17. #17
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    Just watching on TV5:

    My life without plastic

    This is the crazy bet that our journalist Raphaële Schapira tries to meet. Not that easy. Disposable plastic objects, the easiest to replace, are everywhere in our kitchen, our bathroom, our daily life: can we really do without it?

    The Special Envoy: Malaysia invaded by our rubbish heading to Malaysia and one of the most impressive plastic dumps in the world. 870,000 tons of plastic waste arrived in the country last year in containers, from the United States, Canada and France.

    Three times more than in 2016. Malaysia can not anymore, unable to process this waste. And she decided to return a (small) part to the sender.

    Reportage: Virginie Vilar, Mathieu Dreujou. The survey: Consumption, dates a little "limit"! This survey reveals how the famous consumption dates listed on our yoghurts, our cooked dishes, our preserves also aim to make us buy more and more. And lead to an incredible waste of food still good, 7 kilos per year and per capita. A family from Avignon has accepted to participate in a test: a meal based only on expired products.

    Reportage: Michel Guétienne, Mathias Garnier. Presentation: Élise Lucet.

  18. #18
    Thailand Expat
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    Malaysia to send plastic waste back to UK and other foreign nations to avoid becoming ‘dumping ground’
    Southeast Asian country becomes new target for waste after China bans plastic rubbish imports

    Malaysia will send back some 3,000 metric tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste to countries including the UK, US, Canada and Australia in a move to avoid becoming a dumping ground for rich nations, the country’s environment minister said.

    Yeo Bee Yin said Malaysia and many developing countries have become new targets after China banned the import of plastic waste.

    She said 60 containers stacked with contaminated waste were smuggled in en route to illegal processing facilities in the country and will be sent back to their countries of origin.

    Ten of the containers are due to be shipped back within two weeks, she said, as she showed reporters contents of the waste at a port outside Kuala Lumpur.

    The displayed items included cables from the UK, contaminated milk cartons from Australia and CDs from Bangladesh, as well as bundles of electronic and household waste from the US, Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia and China.

    Ms Yeo said the waste from China appeared to be rubbish from France and other countries that had been rerouted after a ban imposed by China.

    “This is probably just the tip of the iceberg due to the banning of plastic waste by China,” Ms Yeo told a news conference.

    “Malaysia will not be a dumping ground to the world ... we will fight back. Even though we are a small country, we can’t be bullied by developed countries.”

    In one case alone, Ms Yeo said a UK recycling company exported more than 50,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste in about 1,000 containers to Malaysia over the past two years.

    The Malaysian government has clamped down on dozens of illegal plastic recycling facilities that had mushroomed across the country, shuttering more than 150 plants since last July.


    Earlier this month, the government also sent back five containers of waste to Spain.

    Ms Yeo said China’s plastic waste ban had “opened up the eyes of the world to see that we have a huge garbage and recycling problem”.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...-a8932741.html

  19. #19
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    never-diminishing mountains formed by drinking water bottles from Korea and biscuit packets from the UK.
    Reading other sources, it seems a lot of councils have contracts with third parties and even sub contractors to recycle rubbish. The rubbish is handed to them, and I'm guessing they make more money if they ship the shit to Indonesia than actually recycle it.

    Perhaps if the councils made efforts to make sure they were getting what they paid for, this would not happen.

    But it also mentions Indonesia "Recycling" companies, which may just be a front for dumping it.

  20. #20
    Thailand Expat VocalNeal's Avatar
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    Here's a village where they recycle. (Not shown in story) I used to ride through it frequently on my commute. Not sure where there recycling stuff comes from.

    https://goo.gl/maps/NpbPH1CoJFmnD7AUA

    Sorry the google car/bike didn't go any further.
    Better to think inside the pub, than outside the box?
    I apologize if any offence was caused. unless it was intended.
    You people, you think I know feck nothing; I tell you: I know feck all
    Those who cannot change their mind, cannot change anything.

  21. #21
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    Waste containers shipping:

    Just to take a look on:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=wast...ed=0CAgQ_AUoAQ

  22. #22
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    On west responsibility, consumers/tax payers actually pay for recycling either through local tax or a small fee is included in the price...but then companies that are supposed to do the recycling then sub contracts to other companies that then use other subcontractors ...at the end of this chain the garbage end in being sent on developing countries with less recycling requirements.
    The greed of recycling companies causes this global mess, they milk customers and taxpayers and do no recycling instead of developing a sound recycling sector.

    Developing countries agree to import garbage (sometimes not knowing the garbage sent is not recyclable or as recyclable as stated on import papers - medical waste, electronics, chemicals), they sort what they are able to process (plastic bottles etc) but leave the unrecyclable mess soil their land.

    BTW the mere fact of sending waste to the other end of the planet is not eco-friendly, maritime transport is a great cause of pollution as boats often use crude oil (high sulfur rate etc)...one boat pollute more than millions of cars...here again companies greed, lack of regulations and enforcement is to be blamed

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farang Ky Ay View Post
    maritime transport is a great cause of pollution as boats often use crude oil (high sulfur rate etc)
    Crude oil?

    Where did you go to school?

  24. #24
    Fresh Seaman CaptainNemo's Avatar
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    I'm surprised anyone noticed.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuRY1skaH4M

    we are all figments of our own imagination.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Crude oil?

    Where did you go to school?
    None of your business but if you want to know share your resume first and I will tell you where I studied.

    The term crude oil seems nonetheless relatively common (see this), TBH even as a non-native English speaker I didn't have to look it up, correct me if you feel I'm wrong. Anyway I meant unrefined oil if it helps you to get my point

    Last edited by Farang Ky Ay; 21-09-2019 at 06:37 PM.

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