Giving Compass' Take:

• Basten Gokkon looks at the combination of homegrown and foreign entities contributing to plastic waste in Indonesia's ecosystems.

• Why is local knowledge surrounding plastic waste management so minimal in many areas of the world? What can you do to help reduce plastic waste in Indonesia's ecosystems and others around the world?

• Read about the pros and cons of one effort to reduce plastic waste in Indonesia's ecosystems.

Researchers from Indonesia and Australia found that waste management and infrastructure capacity in coastal communities in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province was ineffective in stopping plastic debris from polluting the marine ecosystem.

Indonesia is the world’s second-largest plastic polluter, behind only China. Plastic waste in the ocean negatively affects the marine ecosystem as sea creatures like whales, turtles and fish mistake floating plastic waste for food, swallowing material they can’t digest. The plastic accumulates in their bodies over their lifetime, killing them or working their way up the food chain and eventually circling back to humans.

“The crisis facing the world’s oceans from plastics is well documented, yet there is little knowledge of the perspectives and experiences of communities facing overwhelming quantities of plastic waste, most of it originating in other regions,” Anna Phelan, lead author of the new paper and a researcher from the University of Queensland, in a statement.

Results from surveys, interviews and focus group discussions conducted by the paper’s authors with nearly 6,700 households in the province’s Selayar and Wakatobi archipelagic subdistricts showed that knowledge about plastic waste and how to manage it properly was relatively low, while the use of plastic was on the rise with the greater availability and consumption of single-use plastic packaging.

But even if plastic literacy were higher, the researchers say, there would be little these communities could do to manage the waste effectively, given the limited choice of facilities, both on the supply side and in disposal options, to reduce and manage the waste. The nearest recycling facility to Selayar and Wakatobi is in Makassar on the South Sulawesi mainland, located 173 and 273 kilometers (108 and 170 miles) from the respective subdistricts.

Read the full article about plastic waste in Indonesia's ecosystems by Basten Gokkon at Eco-Business.