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On The Way to A Plastic Pollution-Free Indonesia

After years of backlash, Indonesia has officially declared war against plastic waste.

Indonesian landscape surrounded by water
By 2040, Indonesia plans to be entirely plastic pollution-free.

Source: Rachel Ochoa [11]

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Jakarta — Indonesia aims to slash its marine plastic debris by 70% by 2025 [1].

Going even further, the government has also set an ambitious target to reach a plastic pollution-free status by 2040.

This decision was made after years of backlash, claiming that Indonesia has not been doing enough to address its plastic waste crisis despite being the world’s second-largest marine polluter in the world [2].

What has the government done so far?

To successfully reach the 70% reduction target by 2025, the government is committed to reduce or substitute plastic usage as one of its main strategies [3]. This means embracing new delivery models and replacing plastics with eco-friendly alternatives.

Staying true to their words, the government has formed partnerships with major corporations to eliminate any uses of avoidable plastics across their supply chains, such as Nestlé, and the results are finally showing [4].

Last October, Nestlé began using paper straws for its Nescafé ready-to-drink products and MILO starts serving paper cups for cold MILO drinks at sports events sponsored by the brand [5]. By 2025, the company is committed to making all of its packaging 100% recyclable or reusable.

Perhaps, the most significant action that the government has taken is implementing the single-use plastic ban across several major cities in Indonesia, such as Banjarmasin, Balikpapan, Bogor, Denpasar, and just two weeks ago—Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city.

A reusable shopping bag full of oranges
Jakarta has finally restricted single-use plastic bags by issuing a long-anticipated regulation.

Source: cottonbro [12]

The Gubernatorial Regulation No. 142/2019 prohibits the use of single-use plastic bags in shopping centers, supermarkets and traditional markets in Jakarta, with the exception of single-use plastic wrap to encase food ingredients [6]. Instead, these stores are obligated to provide reusable shopping bags, which should be thick enough to allow multiple uses.

Failure to do so would result in administrative sanctions, namely written warning and fines up to IDR 25 million. If offending stores do not pay the penalty five weeks of getting the warning, then their permits will be frozen and possibly revoked.

While the plastic ban has reduced plastic bag use in supermarkets and convenience stores throughout Banjarmasin and Denpasar, traditional markets and street vendors are struggling to reach similar results [7,8]. A. A. Ngurah Oka Sutha Diana, Bali’s government public relations chief, concedes that there is little help for struggling retailers and they need to come up with their own creative solutions [9].


In addition to that, consumers are often misled into thinking that using a reusable shopping bag is 100% environmentally-friendlier than single-use plastic bags.

Research by the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark found that polypropylene bags need to be used 37 times in order to offset the environmental costs that arise from its production process, while paper bags need to be used 43 times and cotton bags 7,100 times! [10].

Translation: The ban is effective in bringing down plastic use, but the overall plastic problem still has ways to go. Oh, and stay loyal to your reusable shopping bags!

Collaboration is key to winning the battle against Indonesia’s plastic pollution.

A green protest, calling for change towards sustainable living
All layers of society must work together to move towards a near-zero plastic pollution economy.

Source: Markus Spiske [13]

All layers of society—government, industries and consumers—must work together to move towards a near-zero plastic pollution economy.

For the government, they need to improve its land-based waste management system, both in the upstream and downstream levels. With that being said, the government and private sectors must work together to evaluate and transform their supply chains. While the government has practised this, it is crucial to extend such dialogue and collaboration projects to small-medium enterprises (SMEs). Such changes will play a big role in developing a sustainable business framework and perhaps, waste management innovations.

Other than that, the government should also apply the single-use plastic ban to the national level to achieve its ambitious goals. This should be coupled with proper enforcement and strict sanctions by the government to make sure of compliance.


As for us consumers, the single-use plastic ban is a great opportunity for us to be mindful and more responsible over what we buy, what we use and how we dispose of our belongings. Instead of only reducing our plastic consumption, it would be more effective for us to start investing in reusables. That way, we can help Indonesia to achieve its near plastic-pollution free status by 2040.

Last but not least, the government and environmental organizations should work together and educate the public about the negative consequences of plastics, especially the younger generation. This can be done by starting environmental dialogues in schools, opening up zero-waste workshops and even arranging beach cleanups so they are more aware and inspired to take action.


It’s clear that the way we do things isn’t exactly creating a path for a promising future. We have to do something starting from now, even if it’s just a small step. Let this movement against single-use plastics become bigger and bigger so it would pressure the government and industries to make more impactful actions for a better future.

Let’s leave the world better than we found it.


What types of plastics can I recycle? What are bioplastics? What does the number in the triangle on plastic containers mean? Check out our FORUM to know more!








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