On 23rd June 2019, Bali officially became the first Indonesian province to ban all single-use plastic bags, straws and polystyrene from its shores. Island-wide confirmation of the ban arrived less than a year after a trial version was implemented in Denpasar. It is hoped that the legislation can make some headway with Bali’s growing plastics problem, and also serve as a model for other Indonesian provinces to follow.
The ban forms part of a wider plan. Indonesia has resolved to achieve a 70% reduction in ocean plastics by 2025, through a combination of legislation, individual activism and buy-in from the private sector. Environmental campaigners, tourists and government officials have all welcomed the latest news, applauding Bali for its firm stance against the scourge of plastic pollution.
The ban was first muted on 1st January this year, when the Mayor of Denpasar announced that all supermarkets, convenience stores and shopping centres in Denpasar would be banned from using single-use plastics. Just over six months later, this legislation has now been extended to cover all of Bali, under the new regulation: Pergub Bali No. 97/2018. The scope of the ban has also been expanded to include everyone, from modern retailers to traditional markets in cities, towns and villages.
To impose the ban, a dedicated Waste Management Task Force has been created by the local governor in Bali, working alongside the provincial Environmental Agency (DLH). In a move that bodes well for international cooperation with the scheme, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also been seen on the frontline of Bali’s war on plastics, in support of Indonesia’s National Action Plan on Marine Plastic Debris.
Bali generates approximately 1.6 million tonnes of waste each year, including 303,000 tonnes of plastic. About 33,000 tonnes of that leaks into the island’s waterways and ends up in the ocean. Tourism is the biggest culprit for Bali’s plastic buildup; visitors to the island are found to generate more than three times the waste of Bali’s permanent residents. To handle this problem, Bali currently has ten government-sanctioned landfill sites, which bury almost half of the island’s waste. Currently, only 7% of plastic waste is collected for recycling, but Bali’s residents are ready for change; in a recent survey, it was found that an overwhelming 87% were willing to sort waste and signalled their readiness to reduce, reuse and recycle.
With Bali beginning to turn the tide on plastics, it’s vital that all visitors do their part. Now that tourists, locals, retailers, governors, agents and international organizations are waking up to the problem, it’s hoped that legislation such as this will help preserve Bali’s beauty for the world to enjoy.