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Plastic Bag Ban: How To Make Sure It Will Work in Jakarta

Fruits and vegetables wrapped with single-use plastic
On 1st July 2020, Jakarta finally banned plastic bags—a major contributor to its plastic waste problem. Will it work?

Source: Karolina Grabowska [7]

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Jakarta — Over the years, technological advancements such as camera-mounted drones and social media have shown the threat that our current plastics economy poses to the environment; from pictures of floating plastics to images of marine life washing ashore with bellies full of plastic trash [1,2].

These visuals are gut-wrenching, but they’re also tangible proof calling for change, both in policies and in mindset

Many countries and cities have made serious strides in the race against plastics. Among them are Kenya, Taiwan, Zimbabwe, Montreal and New Delhi. In Kenya, anyone who is found using, producing or selling a plastic bag can face up to four years in jail or a $38,000 fine [3].

These efforts have sent pockets of hope to the rest of the world that they, too, are capable of change. Early this month, for example, Jakarta officially banned single-use plastic bags, a decision that was praised by many Jakartans as a proof of commitment by the government to achieve the status of plastic pollution-free by 2040 [4].

This decision was also made following the series of success that the single-use plastic ban found in predecessor cities in Indonesia, including Denpasar where plastic bag usage has significantly decreased by 80% ever since the ban was implemented [5].

A tourist attraction in Bali
Bali is leading the anti-plastic movement in Indonesia, but small businesses are struggling to keep up

Source: Jeremy Bishop [8]

According to ZWID, the secret recipe behind the ban’s success in Denpasar lies in its culture, which places a high degree of respect towards the customs set by their leaders. As the saying goes, effective leadership is essential to successful change. Tourists in the city may also have a helping hand since many may be familiar with the regulation back in their home countries.


While the ban has been effective in chain supermarkets and shopping centers, it hasn’t trickled down to smaller businesses

These include traditional markets, corner shops and street vendors. BBPB Jakarta pointed out that they may not be aware of the environmental impacts of using plastics and even if they are, they may not be financially-equipped to make similar changes.

Kadek Dini, a fruit seller in Bali, said, “Big shops in malls, or supermarkets, they have money to give customers free paper bags. Let’s be real, how can fruit sellers like me give those for free? It doesn’t make sense. Plastic is very cheap, that is why we use it. It’s convenient” [5].

What happened in Bali is a valuable lesson for Jakarta

National Monument reaching the blue, cloudy sky
To reach the optimum result, Jakarta needs to learn from its predecessors

Source: Uray Zulfikar [9]

As the most populous city in Indonesia with a wide range of socioeconomic classes, implementing the ban will not be “an easy task, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible,” ZWID said.

To make sure the ban achieves the optimum result, Jakarta needs to learn from its predecessors: what works and what doesn’t; what should stay and what should be improved.

One key takeaway from Bali is a collaboration between the government, industries and consumers should be a priority, as emphasized by both ZWID and BBPB Jakarta.

For example, the government should join hands with environmental organizations to educate the public about the environmental impacts of plastic use, especially the younger generation who are more environmentally-conscious and more open to change [6].


Zero-waste lifestyle is an approach everyone should consider and take

A couple of oranges and a reusable shopping bag
Living zero-waste encourages us to be mindful over what we buy, how we buy and how we dispose of our things

Source: Karolina Grabowska [10]

Our throwaway culture is the heart of our plastic waste problem. We buy things mindlessly and throw them away once they’re broken or when we’re bored and need something new. This vicious cycle has been going on for too long and the environment has always borne the brunt.

In contrast, the zero-waste lifestyle encourages us to be “mindful not only with consumption but [also] the life before and after consumption”, as said by ZWID.

By reducing what we buy and reusing what we have, fewer resources are needed to make new products and less waste is piling up in landfills as a result. Additionally, recycling also encourages manufacturers to use the same resources indefinitely, thus enforcing the principle of the circular economy along with its benefits for the environment, economy and society as a whole.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself — Leo Tolstoy

At the end of the day, preserving Earth is equal to creating a good life for ourselves. There can be no good life without a good and healthy planet.


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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