Supermarkets and vendors in 22 cities across Indonesia, including Jakarta, began charging customers for using plastic bags on Sunday (21/02) in a bid to reduce waste.

The policy, initiated by the Ministry for the Environment and Forestry, will be on a six-month trial run before it is implemented elsewhere, minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said, adding that the cost of each plastic bag depends on the respective provincial and city governments.

Although the ministry recommended a price of no less than Rp 200, Jakarta imposed a heftier fee of Rp 5,000 (37 US cents) per bag to customers, Jakarta deputy governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat said.

The policy is imposed on all retailers, including supermarkets, stores and vendors at traditional markets.

Bandung is adopting a more conservative approach, charging customers the minimum Rp 200 per bag, mayor Ridwan Kamil said at the initiative’s launching ceremony in Jakarta. The world renowned architect said that by charging customers for plastic bags, the city will not only reduce waste but also generate revenue.

“Buying plastic bags can generate Rp 1 billion a day [for the city government]. In a year we should have Rp 360 billion from plastic bag sales. That can be earmarked to buy dump trucks, build incinerators or a recycling plant,” he said.

Bogor, in the outskirts of Jakarta, also demanded retailers and stores charge Rp 200 per plastic bag.

“The government [central and local] have agreed that the lowest price for each plastic bag is Rp 200. What matters most is […] to reduce the use of plastic bags,” Bogor mayor Bima Arya said.

“If we do not see a significant impact from the policy, then there might be a possibility to raise the price.”

Roy Madey, chairman of the Indonesia Retailers Association (Aprindo), said that the association would also help the government educate the public about the negative environmental impact of plastic bags through various social media platforms and posters displayed at retail stores.

During the public awareness campaign, retailers will subsidize each bag in order to maintain a price of Rp 200.

“If the policy calls for the fee to go above Rp 200 per plastic bag, we are concerned that it will decrease the number of customers shopping at modern retail stores. The government has to protect every industrial sector to allow it to grow, including the retail industry,” Roy said.

Indonesia is ranked the world’s second largest plastic waste producer, using 187.2 million tons each year according to a study published last year in the journal Science. China stands at number one, producing 262.9 million tons of plastic waste, most of which ends up in the ocean.



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