Plastic bag reduction policy begins slowly as cities unprepared

February 24, 2016

The government’s new policy requiring modern retailers to charge customers for plastic bags will begin slowly as local administrations in Denpasar and Makassar revealed on Friday that they were unable to implement the program on schedule due to paperwork issues.

Under the policy, scheduled to be implemented in nine major cities starting Sunday, to coincide with National Waste Awareness Day, customers must pay for plastic bags when they shop at malls, department stores, supermarkets and other modern retail outlets.

Plastic bag reduction policy  begins slowly as cities  unprepared
The program, expected to eventually be implemented in a total of 23 major cities, is aimed at reducing plastic waste in Indonesia, a country that consumes up to 9.8 billion plastic bags every year.

Among the first cities set to implement the policy are Jakarta, Bandung, Bogor, Banda Aceh, Surabaya, Tangerang and Balikpapan. Makassar and Denpasar were to be among the first but confirmed on Friday that they would postpone.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post, Denpasar Environment Agency head AA Bagus Sudharsana said that the municipal administration was not ready to implement the policy as it needed more time to discuss it with local retailers.

Sudharsana said the agency had set up a meeting with five retail companies next week and was expecting to wrap up a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the new policy by Friday.

“Thus, we will be able to introduce the program after the MoU’s signing” he said, adding that his agency had also notified the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s Bali office about the postponement.

Meanwhile in Makassar, municipal administration secretary Ibrahim Saleh said that the South Sulawesi provincial capital had postponed the implementation of the policy until March 5, during which time leaders of the province’s 23 regions would gather with the Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo) to sign an MoU regarding the program.

“We will implement the policy after the signing,” he said.

Data from the Environment and Forestry Ministry shows that people consume up to 9.8 billion plastic bags every year in Indonesia, with 95 percent of the bags made with plastics that take a considerable length of time to break down naturally.

The ministry’s decision to issue a circular stating that retailers should start charging for plastic bags was inspired by petitions both online and offline, which attracted 70,000 signatures.

In Bandung, retailers have expressed their support for the implementation of the policy in the West Java provincial capital.

Solo Grand Mall public-relations officer Ni Wayan Ratrina, for example, claimed that the mall management had informed its tenants about the program and would soon share it with visitors.

Not everyone, however, is aware of the plan to introduce new fees on plastic bags.

Lita Angeline of Medan, North Sumatra, who works as a cashier in an Alfarmart minimarket on Jl. Jamin Ginting, said she had never heard of the program.

“The company has yet to inform us about it,” she said.

Apriadi Gunawan in Medan and Ganug Nugroho Adi in Surakarta contributed to the article -

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