Indonesia Pledges $1 Billion To Reduce Plastic Waste

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Indonesia has pledged one billion dollars to reduce their plastic waste by seventy per cent by 2025.

Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhat Binsar Pandjaitan, has announced up to one billion dollars will be pledged to reduce Indonesia’s plastic waste by seventy per cent over the next eight years. The announcement was made at the 2017 World Oceans Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali. Luhat confirmed that Indonesia will be focussing on plastic alternatives and education initiatives to achieve their goal. Their plan is part of the global UN Clean Seas campaign to reduce major marine waste sources by 2022.

According to a 2015 report in the journal Science, Indonesia is the second largest plastic polluter of the world’s oceans, second only to China. It is reported that up to ten million plastic bags are handed out free of charge each day in Indonesia and the World Bank estimates that each of Indonesia’s quarter of a million people produces 0.8 to 1 kilogram of plastic waste annually. These large volumes of plastic find their way easily into Indonesia’s watercourses and onto beaches, particularly during rainy season.

Image courtesy of Nick Curzon

Indonesia is at the centre of the Coral Triangle and has high marine biodiversity. The abundance and variety of Indonesia’s marine life supports tourism, fisheries and provides food security for the inhabitants of its seventeen thousand islands. Plastic pollution not only damages the country’s reputation and value as a clean tourist destination but also has far-reaching consequences within the food chain.

Plastics degrade in the oceans over time into particles less than 1mm in size, termed microplastics. These tiny plastic particles enter the food chain and eventually find their way onto our dinner plates. Whilst we do not absorb all the plastic consumed, it accumulates in the body over time. There is growing concern about toxins within plastics leaching into the tissues of marine animals and into humans when eaten. The health risks of this are not yet fully understood.

Luhat’s ministry is meeting this month to formulate policies to reduce Indonesia’s plastic waste. Their initial plans include the use of biodegradable plastic alternatives, such as cassava and seaweed products, introducing education initiatives and a possible nationwide tax on the use of plastic bags. A trial tax for single-use plastic bags was carried out in twenty three Indonesian cities in 2016. Marine pollution decreased by up to fifty per cent that year but businesses and consumers were resistant to the tax.

Indonesia’s plans form part of the United Nations Clean Seas campaign. Nine other countries are involved in the campaign, including Uruguay who have pledged to tax single-use plastic bags and Costa Rica who have pledged to improve their waste management and education programmes. The Clean Seas campaign encourages businesses and governments to create waste management programs and plastic reduction policies. Individuals can get involved by committing to plastic reduction actions on the campaign website.

With the United Nation’s Environment suggesting the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050, this campaign and Indonesia’s pledge may have come just in time.

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About Author

Kathryn has lived in the UK, Egypt, South Africa and New Zealand and is a trained scuba diving instructor and Great White shark safari guide. She is the author of No Damage (December 2014), the Managing Editor of The Scuba News New Zealand, a freelance writer, public speaker and co-founder of the marine conservation cause Friends for Sharks (August 2014). In 2015 she organised and completed a 10-month global speaking tour in aid of shark conservation: 87 events, 8 countries, 7000 people. Learn more about Kathryn’s book, No Damage at: http://www.kathrynhodgsonauthor.com/books/no-damage/

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