Plastic-Free Bali calls for plastic bag ban

Written by on June 9, 2012 in Bali Environment with 0 Comments

Plastic-Free Bali calls for plastic bag ban

http://www.thejakartapost.com/bali-daily/2012-06-06/plastic-free-bali-calls-plastic-bag-ban.html

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Plastic-Free Bali, a non-profit organization campaigning to prevent plastic waste in Bali, called on the Bali administration to ban the use of plastic bags on the resort island soon. The policy is needed to make a dent in the amount of plastic waste before 2013, the year targeted by the administration to see Bali free of plastic.

“Banning the bag is an obvious first step in addressing Bali’s garbage problems, but such a sweeping measure requires strong government commitment to enforce it, along with widespread public support,” Tina Stockport, communication manager of Plastic-Free Bali said on Monday.

Such a policy might include an initial bag tax, strictly enforced regulations and fines for illegal dumping, as well as increased public education about the obvious need to clean up Bali.

Stockport said that banning the plastic bag is the simplest solution. “If India and China, the world’s largest emerging consumer nations can do it, then so can Bali,” she added.

The Bali provincial administration launched its Bali Clean and Green Program in 2010 to restore and protect the Balinese environment, which is facing gigantic development projects and a rising population. The administration also vowed to free the island from plastic garbage, as part of its Bali Clean and Green Program, by the end of 2013.

However, Plastic-Free Bali questioned the administration’s real attempts to realize the program, which set to facilitate and engage communities to reduce, reuse and recycle (the 3 Rs) plastic, including stopping plastic at its source. “In the three years to date, evidence resulting from these initiatives is lagging,” Stockport said.

She deplored the government plans to provide incentives to retailers to supply so-called biodegradable bags. “Promoting biodegradable bags will actually increase the overall amount of plastic waste, as shoppers believe these bags are an environmentally friendly option and will not bother trying to reduce their use. Surely stopping plastic at its source, rather than creating waste in the first place, would be the most effective method of tackling the waste problem,” she explained.

Stockport said that biodegradable bags do not fully degrade, especially in humid climates such as Indonesia. Even in environments where this type of plastic does break down successfully, bags only decompose into micro fragments of plastic that remain in the environment. “This is merely a cosmetic solution that has dangerous long-term consequences and costs to both human and environmental health.”

“Biodegradable bags contain high levels of heavy metals to promote degradation. These toxins are introduced into the food chain, seeping into farming land and poisoning the many animals and marine life that ingest them,” she added.

Plastic-Free Bali, through its Heroes campaign — where “Heroes” from the Bali community are challenged to live plastic-free to provide advice and tips for others to reduce plastic waste — has found that the use of plastic bags is the easiest part to avoid. “We just need to reject the plastic bag given by the store or food stall, and use
our own cloth bag. It is easy. It will be better if the government regulates banning plastic bags,” said Robi Navicula, environmental activist and front man of the Bali rock band Navicula, one of the Plastic-Free Bali heroes.

“Single-use plastic bags are the first consumer item in the world. They are used often for only minutes, but can pollute the environment for over 1,000 years. World Environment Day is celebrated this week, raising global awareness of the need to take positive environmental action. The time is now for Bali to ban the bag,” Stockport stressed.

Data from the Bali Environmental office shows that the island produces an average of 1,000 cubic meters of plastic waste every day. This is about 10 percent of total daily garbage.

Separately, the head of Bali Environmental office, Anak Agung Alit Sastrawan, said that the Bali administration would consider the Plastic-Free Bali call to ban plastic bags. However, he said, it would be very hard to issue a policy banning the plastic bag. “I think it is a good idea. But I don’t think it’s possible for us to ban the use of plastic bags. As we know, plastic bags are very common in our daily activities,” Sastrawan said.

The Bali administration, he said, were now trying to provide biodegradable plastic. “It is more likely to be possible. We will try to provide biodegradable bags,” Sastrawan said.

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