We need to start caring about plastics recycling again

Sure, recycling plastic is boring. But now we have a new reason to care about it. A new report says that eighty-nine percent of Indonesia’s coral reefs are struggling with disease. Diseases like skeletal eroding band disease that literally kill the budding coral that forms the reef’s spine.

And these diseases are not some mystery that science will have to investigate for ten years. It’s that plastic bottle that someone threw off a boat, times a million boats, times six bottles.

Australia is doing a pretty good job of containing its boat trash. Its coral reefs are under a manageable degree of stress. But coral reefs in Indonesia are dying. According to a recent study coming out of the Netherlands, “Indonesia produced 3.2 million tons of plastic waste in 2010, with around 1.29 million tons of that ending up in the ocean.”

Indonesia’s failure to manage its plastic waste is now an international problem. This problem is not an easy fix. It’s obvious that at least three things need to happen:

  1. Entrepreneurs need to invent new end products that can be recycled out of waste plastic and produced with a minimum of machinery and pollution. These end products need to stimulate Indonesia’s economy and provide gainful employment at the local level.
  2. Indonesia’s government needs to do a better job of sealing off the pathways that lead from the garbage mountain to the ocean.
  3. Private industry in Indonesia needs to step up to the plate and package products in biodegradable materials.