Plastic bags to be officially banned in Jakarta starting July 1

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

It’s been a long time coming, but the Jakarta provincial government is set to officially ban single-use plastic bags at supermarkets, malls, and traditional markets this coming Wednesday. 

The regulation was passed by Governor Anies Baswedan in December of last year, though the Gubernatorial Regulation (Pergub) itself was drafted in late 2018. Anies held off on signing it into law because he didn’t want to rush the policy before environmentally friendly alternatives to single-use plastic bags (locally known as kresek) were widely available.

The gubernatorial regulation, coded Pergub 142/2019, comes into effect after a six-month transition period, during which the government raised awareness about the specifics of the ban. 

Though the draft regulation included fines of IDR5-25 million (US$350-1,740) for retailers or vendors that violate the ban, the final regulation was less specific about the sanctions, which could come in the form of written warnings, fines, or suspension/revocation of business permits.

The current regulation does not include warung for the time being, so the local food stalls commonly found throughout the capital are still allowed to use kresek. Officials are reportedly still encouraging them to reduce plastic usage, and there’s still the possibility that all forms of retailers will not be allowed to use plastic bags in the future.

In addition, retailers and vendors are provided with an added incentive, as the provincial government may reward those who comply with tax reductions. 

Eco-friendly bags, as defined in the Pergub, include those made from paper, cloth, or recycled materials.

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 Environment Agency Head Andono Warih said that a large portion of garbage in Bantargebang ⁠— a landfill in the satellite city of Bekasi where the majority of waste produced by Jakartans end up at ⁠— is dominated by plastic.

“Bantargebang is now full of plastic bags. It has reached 39 million tons [of garbage], 34 percent of it is plastic and they’re mostly plastic bags. If we don’t do anything about it, [the garbage] will increasingly burden the environment and it’s a pity if our children and grandchildren will not get a share of their place,” Andono said yesterday.

Indonesia has a long-standing problem with plastic waste, as highlighted by the then-Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti in 2018. Susi noted at the time that the archipelagic country is the world’s second largest producer of plastic marine waste, behind only China, and that there could be “more plastic than fish in the sea by 2030” if Indonesia doesn’t change its ways soon.

In line with Susi’s statement, Andono said that at least 1.3 million tons of plastic waste enter Indonesian seas each year.

Also read ⁠— Planet Plastic: The colossal challenge of cleaning up Indonesia’s Ciliwung River

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