Indonesia Balifokus

The Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry notes that at least 9,85 billions of plastic bags are used each year in Indonesia’s modern retail system. Reducing their use both reduces the likelihood that they will leak into waterways and oceans, and also increases the willingness to invest in plastics recycling when hard-to-manage plastics are less prevalent. A successful national level trial of a ban on free distribution of single-use plastic bags has already been undertaken thanks to powerful advocacy by organizations and citizens. The result of the first trial in 23 cities has successfully reduced plastic bag usage by up to 55% and in one city (Banjarmasin, Borneo) led to a complete ban on plastic bags in modern retail stores. While great progress has been made, more needs to be done. This is a hallmark example of a plastic pollution reduction policy which has gained momentous popularity in the Indonesian policy agenda. If it succeeds, it will set the stage for more success in the future for other waste reduction policies, with some obvious next targets being polystyrene and sachet packaging. If it fails, it will be more difficult to get other policy measures put in place. So we need to invest in success in this arena.

Fortunately, while national development has been slower, local governments have shown a strong interest in implementing plastic bag reduction policies, but they need technical assistance and guidance adapted to their particular circumstances to be successful. Through PSF support, GIDKP dedicated to:

  • conduct locally-specific research in three cities to guide local policy and practice development to reduce single-use plastic bags and polystyrene;
  • produce draft regulations suited to local needs in consultation with local government
  • develop and workshop communications strategies to support the proposed policies;
  • develop specific materials to be used by retailers to support the policies;
  • support implementation by retailers of new practices (e.g., pay for bags and “take-back” boxes for bags) and use awards/shaming to draw attention to retailers that achieve reductions or fail to implement.
  • undertake five (5) university education campaigns regarding plastic bag elimination to empower youth participation and engagement in monitoring. These will include a variety of activities, including workshops, augmented reality games, and discussions with local government. These universities are located in the target city and traditionally play an important role in building the government policy agenda. Student activism will link into other work in the strategy, both as a way to mobilize social media coverage, as well as build a volunteer workforce committed to liaising with their local policy makers, exerting pressure and support where necessary.

These efforts are designed to lead to a measurable reduction in plastic bag use in the cities in question; a measurable increase in understanding of plastic waste issues by the general public and by specific targeted groups; and a measurable increase in retailer compliance in reducing plastic bags. Work with retailers will be considered successful within the grant period if 25% of retailers implement new practices. These activities will directly contribute to plastic pollution reduction and will provide models that support replication elsewhere in Indonesia. They also build momentum, as noted above, for effective work against other problem plastics, including those that may seem more intractable.

At least two major progresses achieved in the last 6 month, the first one is to support zero waste cities initiative in Metropolitan Bandung, we connect with Cimahi City Officials to advise the development of academic research and local regulation on pay for plastic bags in modern retailers. Until now, we already produced those documents. We are now looking forward for another collaborative works in Bandung City and Bandung Regency. The second one is multi stakeholder workshop to create communication strategy that is effective to influence consumer in reducing plastic bags. We gathered government, retailer, consumer groups, media and creative industry to share understandings and ideas to develop models and solutions on plastic bag reduction. The result of the workshop is an action plan ideas that will translate to local implementations.