Jakarta looking to ban ‘kresek’ bags to help combat plastic waste problem

Photo: Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Jakarta has had some government policies to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags (known locally by the onomatopoeia kresek), but they did little to curb their rampant use in the capital.

That is perhaps why the Jakarta Provincial Government is looking into banning kresek bags outright to help combat the plastic waste problem in the capital, and indeed, the country.

“The important thing is we want to ban single-use plastic bags — the kresek,” Jakarta Environment Agency Head Isnawa Adji told reporters yesterday, as quoted by Kompas.

Isnawa noted that plastic waste still suffocates the city to this day, forming a huge percentage of the litter found on Jakarta’s streets, sidewalks, and waterways. He said that, based on a recent independent survey, 90 percent of Jakartans have agreed to reduce daily plastic use.

There is no specific plan for the possible kresek ban yet, but Isnawa said that the city administration is already discussing the matter with the relevant parties.

“Maybe we can incentivize retailers [to enforce the ban] — we are discussing that with them. Not that we want to make enemies of plastic producers, but we’ll listen to their ideas too,” he said.

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.

Jakarta could take a lesson from its satellite city of Bogor, which is banning the use of plastic bags at shopping centers and supermarkets starting December 1.

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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