Gov Anies holding off on signing plastic bag ban while provincial gov’t looks for viable alternatives

Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan speaks during an interview at his home in Jakarta, Indonesia February 21, 2017.  REUTERS/Fatima El-Kareem
Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan speaks during an interview at his home in Jakarta, Indonesia February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Fatima El-Kareem

Jakarta’s ban on single-use plastic bags (locally known as kresek) is expected to be passed and enforced in early 2019, but Governor Anies Baswedan says he doesn’t want to be rushed into passing the policy without a thorough study of the issue.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Anies said that the provincial government is still revising some aspects of the draft for the Gubernatorial Decree (Pergub) to give a legal foundation to the ban.

“It’s not simply banning [plastic bags], but we have to make sure there’s a good process to adopt its substitutes, to make sure that all the materials for the substitutes are ready,” he said, as quoted by Kompas.

“Housewives will be burdened if we don’t prepare the substitute. Commercial entities will also be burdened.”

According to the Jakarta Environment Agency, substitute for kreseks could come in the form of environmentally friendly plastic bags — made with organic materials — or pushing the public to bring their own reusable bags when shopping.

In the Pergub draft, the agency said the government could fine those who provide kreseks, namely plastic producers, retailers and vendors in traditional markers, with a fine of IDR5 million-25 million (US$350-1,740).

When the Pergub is passed, there will likely be a six-month transition period during which the government will raise awareness about and socialize the specifics of the kresek ban.

In 2016, the Indonesian government carried out a temporary trial policy for mandatory charges levied on customers for plastic bag use. In Jakarta, the charge was a mere IDR200 (US$0.014) per plastic bag. After the trial ended, most retailers decided not to adopt the policy save for a select few who still charge around IDR200 per plastic bag.

Bogor, a city of 1 million located just outside of Jakarta, has taken an important step in the country’s war against plastic waste by becoming the first city in Indonesia to officially ban plastic bags at all modern retail stores and shopping centers while also working to expand the ban into traditional markets.

Indonesia holds the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s second largest producer of plastic marine waste in the world, behind only China. A great deal of that waste comes from the 9.8 billion (!) plastic bags the country is estimated to use each year.

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