Indonesia's capital bans single-use plastic bags from markets and malls

Jakarta will ban single-use plastic bags from its street markets and shopping malls from the middle of this year. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - The capital of Indonesia, a country listed as the second worst offender for polluting the world's oceans with plastic, will ban single-use plastic bags from its street markets and shopping malls from the middle of this year.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan signed the regulation, seen by Reuters, on Dec 27, following the steps taken by the Indonesian holiday island of Bali, which enforced a ban last year in despair over the trash washed up on its beaches.

Nowhere, apart from China, according to a Science journal report in 2015, dumps more plastic waste in the sea than Indonesia, an archipelago nation of 260 million people.

Unable to cope with the amount of solid waste generated by a metropolitan area that is home to 30 million people, Jakarta's environmental agency says the city's landfills are near capacity, according to media reports.

The new regulation stipulates that shopkeepers and stallholders should provide environmentally-friendly carrier bags in future and the penalties for violations would range from written warnings, to fines of anywhere between US$360 (S$485) and US$1,800 (S$2,420) and finally suspension or termination of trading permits.

The forms of plastic banned in the regulation include latex, thermoplastic and polyethylene.

Tutum Rahanta, who represents an association of shopping centre tenants, said the government has failed to think through the alternatives.

"Consumers should not be sacrificed," Rahanta said. "The government wanted to (ban plastic bags), but when we asked them what the alternative would be, they never thought about that." Ardiansyah Rizza, 34, a souvenir vendor in an East Jakarta modern market, said people accepted change was needed, but complained that six months was not long enough to make the move over to shopping without plastic bags.

"The period between January to June is too short," he said.

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