Indonesians clean up the beach one sandal at a time

The yearly campaign kicked into action after rubbish was getting trapped in the fishing nets of locals. (AFP pic)

BANDAR LAMPUNG: Hundreds of people sifted through a vast wasteland of rubbish strewn across a beach in Indonesia on Thursday, underscoring the Southeast Asian archipelago’s mammoth marine waste problem.

Some 200 students, military personnel and locals scoured a beach on the southern tip of Sumatra island, picking up rubbish as they waded through heaps of plastic, discarded flip flops and other debris.

In just over three hours, the group collected an eye-watering 30 tonnes of rubbish from the coast in Lampung province.

The yearly campaign first kicked into action in 2010 after huge amounts of rubbish were getting trapped in the fishing nets of locals who made their living off the sea.

Most of the detritus had flowed in from the provincial capital.

Other rubbish clearing campaigns have popped up across Indonesia, the world’s second-biggest contributor to marine debris after China.

In holiday hotspot Bali, the problem has become so bad that officials declared a “garbage emergency” two years ago after a stretch of coast was swamped with rubbish.

Last year, a sperm whale was found dead in a marine park off Sulawesi island with 115 plastic cups and 25 plastic bags in its stomach.

The archipelago of some 17,000 islands has pledged to reduce marine plastic waste by 70% by 2025.