Indonesian teen calls for end to Canada’s export of plastic waste – read her powerful message here

Canada sends plastic waste abroad, and this Indonesian teen wants us to stop | story

16-Year-Old Indonesian Activist Makes Global Impact at UN Plastics Treaty Summit


  • Aeshnina Azzahra, a passionate 16-year-old environmental activist from Indonesia, jetted off to Ottawa, Ontario, for a conference dedicated to discussing a worldwide plastics treaty.
  • Nina’s primary goal is to urge countries to cease shipping their plastic waste overseas, particularly to developing nations like Indonesia.
  • During her visit, she engaged in an eye-opening meeting with Canada’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault.
  • Stay tuned to uncover more about Nina’s impactful journey. ?? ?? ??

The river where Aeshnina Azzahra resides is tainted by an influx of plastic waste.

Various sources contribute to the buildup of plastics in her Indonesian community, with developed nations like Canada exporting their discarded trash abroad for processing and recycling.

Regrettably, a significant portion of this plastic ends up polluting water systems and ultimately transforming into detrimental microplastics.

These minute plastic particles infiltrate the environment, infiltrating water, soil, air, animals, and even humans.

Aeshnina, along with her environmentally conscious father, embarked from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Ottawa, Ontario, to disseminate her urgent message: Halt the influx of plastic into her country.

Both attended a week-long United Nations summit that wrapped up on April 29th.

Diplomats representing 170 nations gathered for the fourth session of talks aimed at developing a global treaty to combat plastic waste.

Emphasizing the importance of the treaty for future generations, Aeshnina stated, “I’m advocating not only for the environment but also for my own future,” in an interview with CBC News.

The Harsh Reality of Imported Waste in Indonesia

A pivotal motivator for Aeshnina’s activism stems from the distressing level of plastic waste polluting her local environment.

Together with her group, the River Warriors, Aeshnina delves into heaps of discarded trash, meticulously documenting the origin companies and locations.

Within Indonesia, Aeshnina has observed deficient regulation within the recycling industry, leading to the generation of harmful chemicals in the air and water.

Expressing her concerns, she mentioned, “The lack of advanced technology, safety measures, and the direct release of untreated wastewater into the rivers pose severe risks to the workers, environment, and our future.”

Thus, magnifying her global plea for change.

Advocating for Policy Alterations from Global Leaders

In the previous year, Canada dispatched a whopping 202 million kilograms of plastic waste overseas, based on data outlined by the government to the UN Comtrade.

While a significant fraction heads to the United States, the plastic traverses worldwide boundaries upon reaching its destination.

A direct flow of plastic waste from Canada to Malaysia, an adjacent country to Indonesia, has further fueled Aeshnina’s resolve.

She’s penned letters to leaders worldwide, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging them to clamp down on the practice of exporting recyclable waste.

Nina EnvironmentMinister Indonesian teen calls for end to Canada's export of plastic waste - read her powerful message here

During her time at the UN summit, Aeshnina bravely delivered a speech among a sea of activists and protestors, catching the attention of Shellan Saling, a committed environmentalist with Youth4Ocean.

Reflecting on her momentous speech, Saling remarked, “She captivated the audience and demanded recognition with her powerful words.”

Additionally, Aeshnina held a brief discussion with Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault in Ottawa, where he pledged to tackle plastic pollution head-on.

The Minister’s office reiterated the urgency of combating plastic pollution, citing its broad environmental repercussions.

A Path to Progress in Ottawa

A noteworthy outcome of the UN summit in Ottawa was the presentation of an advanced draft text for the impending global agreement, setting the stage for further collaborative efforts.

One final session scheduled in Busan, South Korea, this upcoming November will serve as the platform for forging a conclusive agreement among world leaders.

Underlining Canada’s commitment, Minister Guilbeault expressed, “We are dedicated to finalizing an agreement by the end of 2024, aligning with our vision of zero plastic waste by 2030.”

As Aeshnina looks ahead, her poignant message is entrenched in urging policymakers to consider the future and prioritize a safe, healthy, and plastic-free environment for generations to come.

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Contributions from Benjamin Shingler, Natalia Goodwin/CBC 



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