Jakarta introduces Rp 200 per plastic bag policy, gov’t looking to increase rate to Rp 5,000

Well it finally happened. Coinciding with National Waste Care Day yesterday, Indonesia took a giant step in reducing plastic waste by implementing a policy to charge customers for every plastic bag they use at supermarkets and minimarkets in 22 cities, including Jakarta.

Anyone who went grocery shopping yesterday in Jakarta was hopefully forced to pay Rp 200 for each plastic bag they used, which was the price set by the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

But if you are one of the people worried that Rp 200 per bag is not enough to make a difference in people’s shopping habits, you’ll be happy to know that in the near future, Jakartans may have to fork out way more per plastic bag.

“Pak vice governor (Djarot Saiful Hidayat) doesn’t agree with Rp 200, he wants it to be Rp 5,000 per plastic bag,” said Jakarta Sanitation Agency head Isnawa Adji, as quoted by Kompas yesterday.

Isnawa added that the provincial government hopes that such a high price per plastic bag would significantly reduce their usage.

However, the provincial government’s proposal won’t come into effect for at least six months from now, during which the Environment and Forestry Ministry will analyze the effectiveness of the current Rp 200 per plastic bag policy.

Some cities have actually implemented different prices for plastic bags. Ambon is actually already charging its citizens Rp 5,000 per plastic bag while Balikpapan charges Rp 1,500.

The current price for Jakarta (and for most other cities taking part in the program) probably won’t make that much of a difference in reducing plastic bag usage as it won’t even put a dent in most people’s shopping bills. It could also be a convenient way for people to get rid of their otherwise worthless loose change.

Since government data shows that we have used about 9.8 billion plastic bags in the last 10 years, of which 95% ended up in the trash, we think that the government should charge much more for plastic bags so that the policy can really make a difference.

Let’s not forget that environmentalists say plastic bags are a plague on our environment, adding vast amounts of pollution to our oceans, killing wildlife, using up precious natural resources and taking decades to decompose.

Would you be willing to pay up to Rp 5,000 per plastic bag for the sake of the environment?

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