Week One: Bali residents transition to plastic-free shopping

A swimmer encounters more than just marine life during a swim in Bali. Photo: Going Epic Places/FB
A swimmer encounters more than just marine life during a swim in Bali. Photo: Going Epic Places/FB

As of January 1, Denpasar city government’s ban on plastic bags in “modern” stores—namely convenience stores and supermarkets—came into full effect. The prohibition, which was announced by Mayor Rai Mantra in October last year, came just a few weeks ahead of an island-wide ban on single-use plastics like straws, styrofoam and poly bags.

The latter policy was signed and agreed by Bali Governor Wayan Koster just before Christmas, and is aimed at producers, businesses and individuals in the hopes that the province’s plastic waste can be reduced by 60-70 percent, according to a report by Bali Post.

But while Koster’s decree carries a six month grace period, the plastic bag ban in Denpasar is already in full swing.

On Wednesday, Denpasar’s Environmental and Hygiene Agency’s (DLHK) carried out inspections to see how consumers and retailers were adapting to the initial plastic bag ban. Led by I Ketut Wisada, Head of DLHK, officers visited a number of shopping centers, supermarkets and convenience stores in the region.

According to a report by Bali Post, the investigation revealed that while many retailers had switched to reusable bags or cardboard boxes, some stores were still offering plastic bags.

Wisada also noted that communication on the matter could be improved. “The prohibition on using plastic bags is still unclear to some shoppers. (A notice) must be placed at the cash register so that it can be clearly read,” he said to the source.

There has also been criticism of the lack of clarity as to the consequences for violating the regulation. Speaking to Tribun Bali, activist Luh De Dwi Jayanthi of non-profit organisation Plastik Detox Bali, said, “As far as we can see, it seems like the sanctions for violations of the regulation are not clear.”

On the whole though, the public reaction seems to have been positive. AA Ngurah Agung Agra Putra, the operational manager of the Ayu Nadi supermarket group, expressed the need for a collaborative community effort.

“We hope that people will be wiser in using plastic as well as participating in the joint effort of protecting the environment. The government, employers and communities must work together to protect the environment,” he commented to the source.

Despite a few early teething problems, efforts towards a cleaner, more eco-minded Bali appear to be going well, with Denpasar’s stance on single-use plastics paving the way for Koster’s island-wide ban, which will come into full effect in June.


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