Jakarta Withdraws from Plastic Bag Charge Program

Thursday, Feb 25, 2016

The Jakarta administration has withdrawn from the national policy requiring stores to charge for plastic shopping bags that was issued by the Environment and Forestry Ministry just last week.

The policy was issued by Minister Siti Nurbaya on National Waste Awareness Day through a circular and stipulates that retailers must not give plastic bags to customers for free, but must charge at least
Rp 200 (1 US cent) for each.

The Jakarta administration will instead enforce a 2013 bylaw on waste management, which Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja said was sufficient for reducing plastic bag waste.

Therefore, Jakarta will instead order retailers to use biodegradable plastic bags and leave the decision to charge customers for them up to the retailers.

Jakarta was among seven cities, along with Tangerang, Banten, Bogor, West Java, Bandung, West Java, Banda Aceh, Aceh, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and Surabaya, East Java, to implement the policy. There were initially 23 cities, but many postponed action or backtracked because of a lack of preparation.

The seven cities make up almost 10 percent of the national population, but with a population of 10-million Jakarta backing out of the program will mean the six remaining cities would represent only about 6 percent of the country’s 250 million people.

Ahok said that the Jakarta administration would inform retail shops and convenience stores of the administration’s decision.

Article 21 of the bylaw states that shopping centers, shops and markets must use “environmentally friendly” plastic shopping bags as part of a citywide attempt to minimize waste, meaning that the plastic bags used must be made of recyclable and easily biodegradable materials.

Article 129 of the bylaw further states that all shopping centers, shops and markets that neglect or deliberately ignore their obligation to use biodegradable plastic shopping bags as stipulated in article 21 would be fined between a minimum of Rp 5 million and a maximum of Rp 25 million.

“The Jakarta administration has very detailed regulations on plastic bags and our bylaw is already very advanced as opposed to just imposing charges. We will enforce our own bylaw instead of enforcing the plastic bag charge policy,” Ahok told reporters at City Hall Wednesday.

Jakarta Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) head Junaedi said his office would disseminate information to retailers in the next three months.

He said that the production costs of biodegradable plastic bags were higher than of regular plastic bags, thus retailers could charge customers. Junaedi predicted that biodegradable bags would cost from
Rp 800 to Rp 1,000 each.

He, however, said that retailers could keep the money to cover the production costs of the biodegradable bags.

PT Indomarco Prismatama public relations manager Nenny Kristyawati said that Indomaret had already been using biodegradable bags since 2009. Indomaret does not charge customers for their plastic bags. Other retailers such as Alfamart and The Food Hall also uses biodegradable plastic bags.

Tiza Mafira, the director of the Plastic Bag Diet (DKP) movement said that her organization had never supported biodegradable plastic bags. She said such bags, which had earned Indonesian National Standards (SNI) certification, were not completely degradable in the natural environment.

Tiza, citing 2015 research by the United Nations Environment Programme, said many plastic bags found littering the sea were biodegradable.

“Reducing is the first step before reusing and recycling. The government cannot rely on regular plastic bags or oxodegradable or biodegradable bags as the only solution,” Tiza said, adding that she instead advised the Jakarta administration to implement the plastic bag charge policy.


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