Bali bans single-use plastics in bid to cut rubbish in sea

Plastic trash at a beach in Sanur, Bali. Plastic waste has become a major issue on the holiday island, littering its beaches and surrounding waters, including snorkelling and diving sites.
Plastic trash at a beach in Sanur, Bali. Plastic waste has become a major issue on the holiday island, littering its beaches and surrounding waters, including snorkelling and diving sites.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA • The authorities in Bali have enacted a ban on single-use plastics, including shopping bags, styrofoam food packets and straws, in a bid to greatly reduce the amount of plastic waste clogging up rivers and the seas around the holiday island.

Bali Governor Wayan Koster announced the ban on Monday, and expressed hope that the policy would lead to a 70 per cent decline in Bali's marine plastic waste within a year.

The new policy carries a six-month grace period dating from Dec 21, when it was signed and took effect.

"This policy is aimed at producers, distributors, suppliers and business actors, including individuals, to suppress the use of single-use plastics. They must substitute plastics with other materials," Mr Koster was quoted by Tribunnews as saying.

He added that administrative sanctions would be imposed on those who did not comply with the ban. "If they disobey, we will take action, like not extending their business permit," Mr Koster said.

Plastic waste has become a major issue in Bali, littering the island's beaches and surrounding waters, including snorkelling and diving sites.

It has been difficult to trace the origins of the rubbish but experts estimate that up to 80 per cent comes from the island.

The rubbish that informal workers collect from hotels and villages is often dumped in rivers, which carry the waste out to sea. Much of the rubbish is then washed up on the island's beaches.

Jakarta plans to follow Bali's example by drafting a similar gubernatorial regulation that bans single-use plastic bags.

Jakarta Environmental Agency head Isnawa Adji pointed to a survey by the Indonesia Plastic Bags Diet Movement that showed that more than 90 per cent of the capital's residents agreeing to reduce their use of plastics.

Mr Isnawa said that one measure to reduce single-use plastics is to limit drinking straws in restaurants, with other establishments to follow suit.

He said the agency would ask for input from stakeholders and residents in the months prior to enacting the ban.

The Finance Ministry's Customs and excise directorate-general is also considering a plan to tax plastic bags next year to reduce their use.

JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2018, with the headline 'Bali bans single-use plastics in bid to cut rubbish in sea'. Print Edition | Subscribe