Bali bans single-use plastics, targets 70 per cent reduction in 2019

Passengers disembark a boat in Sanur, Denpasar, Bali, on April 10, 2018. Experts estimate that up to 80 per cent of the rubbish on Bali's beaches comes from the island. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Bali has taken a big step to curb pollution in its waters, enacting a ban on single-use plastics including shopping bags, styrofoam, and straws.

Bali Governor Wayan Koster announced the ban on Monday (Dec 24), and expressed hope that the policy would lead to a 70 per cent decline in Bali's marine plastics 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 said, as quoted by tribunnews news site.

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," he said.

It has been difficult to trace the origins of the trash on Bali's beaches, but experts estimate that up to 80 per cent comes from the island.

The trash that informal workers collect from hotels and villages is often dumped in rivers, which then carry the waste out to sea. The trash eventually finds its way back to the resort island's beaches on coastal tides and currents.

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 more than 90 per cent of the capital's residents agreed to reduce their use of plastics.

Mr Isnawa said that one measure to reduce single-use plastics was to limit drinking straws at 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 mulling over a plan to tax plastic bags next year to reduce their use.

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