Indonesia: Most Customers Welcome Paid Plastic Bag Policy: Survey

Ari Supriyanti Rikin & Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 10 May 16;

Jakarta. Three months after the Ministry of Environment and Forestry implemented a rule requiring customers to pay for plastic shopping bags, the policy continues to be monitored.

The policy was adopted in 22 cities across Indonesia and five areas in Greater Jakarta, to reduce waste and promote environmental conservation.

Surveys have shown that most customers welcome the policy, with 97 percent of respondents agreeing that plastic waste has a particularly negative impact on the environment.

Sudirman, the director for waste management at the environment ministry, stated that the policy has been monitored from the first day of implementation on Feb. 21 until the end of April.

"The results indicate that people are aware that plastic waste plays a role in environmental pollution and endangers the health of others," Sudirman said on Monday (09/05).

He added that some respondents even suggested that retail outlets should be banned from providing plastic bags to customers altogether.

Additionally, he said that since the policy was implemented, the use of plastic bags was reduced by 30 percent.

The environment ministry has asked the Ministry of Finance to consider a tax on all plastic packaging materials, including beverage bottles.

"From a technical standpoint, we will support this [tax on plastic packaging materials]. The finance ministry is currently coordinating that. The collected taxes will be used to support the Public Service Agency's industry of environmentally friendly recycled plastics," the director said.

The paid plastic bag policy applies to all retailers, including supermarkets, stores and vendors at traditional markets.

The cost of plastic bags differ between cities and regions, but the ministry has placed a minimum tax of Rp 200 per bag.

A recent study showed that Indonesia dumps between 500,000 and 1.3 million metric tons of plastic trash into the sea every year, making it the world's second-largest polluter after China.

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