Having earned notoriety as one of the top marine polluters in the world from plastic waste, Indonesia is taking action, although the government and the private sector may not see eye to eye on how to tackle the problem.
The government has set a target to reduce plastic waste in the ocean as much as 70% by 2025. It also wants to cut overall waste through reducing, reusing and recycling by 30% in the same year. A number of regional administrations have already introduced bans on the use of plastics, especially single-use products.
Bali, the top tourism destination in Indonesia, introduced its policy in late December. Governor I Wayan Koster has set a target to reduce the island’s plastic waste by 60-70% within a year by banning plastic bags, foam containers and straws.
More recently, the Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo) reintroduced a policy to charge customers 200 rupiah (equivalent to about 45 satang) per plastic bag starting from March 1.
The government tried to impose a plastic-bag tax in 2016 but it abandoned the plan after a three-month trial amid protests from retailers, especially in the regions. Some even faced police questioning and intervention by local authorities, after customers demanded to know whether the shops had a legal basis for charging a fee.
The Indonesian Consumer Foundation (YLKI) chairman Tulus Abadi said in a statement that paying 200 rupiah per plastic bag was not much of a deterrent, as most people could easily pay for 1,000 rupiah for five plastic bags on a typical shopping trip. The least the retailers could do, he said, would be to switch to biodegradable plastics.
In Jakarta alone, people use between 240 million and 300 million plastic bags per year, or 1,900 to 2,400 tonnes, according to research conducted by the Jakarta administration’s environmental agency and Gerakan Indonesia Diet Kantong Plastik (GIDKP) or Indonesia on a Plastic Bag Diet Movement.
According to environment ministry data, Jakarta produces 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day. The four most common items found in coastal areas are disposable plastic bags, straws, plastic sachets and foam containers.
Muharram Atha Rasyadi, a campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia, said regional administrations’ initiatives to ban single-use plastics should be consistent and implemented thoroughly across the country.
He said businesses have to innovate and abandon the use of single-use plastics for good. Plastic contamination poses different risks to human health in every phase of life from the chemical elements released during use, and after use when the waste pollutes food sources and the environment.
“The main solution to the plastic waste problem is to reduce the supply of single-use plastic. Burning plastic waste in an incinerator is not a solution since it releases toxic chemical elements to the air,” Mr Rasyadi said.
Source： Bangkok Post / Zaobao