Indonesian minimarkets no longer providing free plastic bags starting today

Photo: Michael Coghlan / Flickr
Photo: Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Starting today, minimarkets AKA convenience stores across Indonesia are charging a nominal fee for every plastic bag customers use to carry their purchases.

The policy was announced by the Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo) yesterday as part of their pledged support for the government’s campaign to reduce the alarming levels of plastic waste pollution in the country.

“What we are doing is a form of education to customers in order to save the environment,” Aprindo Chairman Roy Nicholas Mandey said during a press conference in Jakarta yesterday, as quoted by Kompas.

Around 40,000 retailers are registered under Aprindo, all of whom have pledged to adopt the paid plastic bag policy.

Though the price for each plastic bag may vary among retailers, Aprindo has set IDR200 (US$0.014) as an acceptable standard.

In light of the policy, convenience store chains Alfamart and Alfamidi said their combined 15,000 stores in Indonesia will charge IDR200-500 per plastic bag. However, the policy has not been implemented in all of their stores across the archipelago, as some stores still need time to inventorize the previously free plastic bags, considering that the policy was announced out of the blue.

A similar situation is also happening with minimarket giants Indomaret, which also still has stores giving out free plastic bags today.

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 also a mere IDR200 per plastic bag. After the trial ended, most retailers decided not to adopt the policy.

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.

Jakarta seemed set to follow suit, but Governor Anies Baswedan held off on signing a plastic bag ban in January in order to wait for viable alternatives.

Indonesia holds the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s second largest producer of plastic marine waste, 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. The Indonesian government aims to reduce plastic waste by 70% by 2025.

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