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11 february 2020

The war on marine plastic waste has begun in Indonesia

Aware of the urgency of the situation*, the Indonesian government is going to implement a policy as of 2020 aiming to limit single-use plastic with a view to reducing ocean plastic waste by 70% by 2025.

The largest archipelago in the world at the crossroads of two oceans and the second largest marine plastic polluter after China,Indonesia has a key role to play in the fight against marine pollution. All the more so as plastic waste imports to Indonesia have increased from 10,000 to 35,000 metric tons per month since China closed its borders to this waste in 2018, according to the NGO Greenpeace. The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) estimates that 0.27 to 0.9 million metric tons of waste is swept along by rivers into the oceans each year.

One of the regulations in effect in early 2020 is the obligation for packaging producers to reduce their waste by at least 30% in ten years. “This is mandatory. They may limit, reuse, redesign the packaging or take it back for recycling,” reasons Novrizal Tahar, at the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry. He adds that the central government will ask regional bodies to consider policies limiting single-use plastic**: “We will gather regional heads to encourage this restriction policy to be implemented in 2020.”

Indonesia has already adopted a number of robust initiatives, such as a plastic bags ban  in several localities, including the cities of Banjarmasin, Balikpapan and Bogor, along with the province of Bali. This step has borne fruit in Banjarmasin, where two to three metric tons of waste is avoided daily. However, in the capital, which has not imposed any restrictions, LIPI notes that 59% of the waste discharged by nine of the rivers in the Jakarta, Bekasi and Tangerang conurbation consists of disposable plastics that pollute Jakarta Bay.


All these initiatives are in line with the STOP and STOP3***projects established in Indonesia since 2018, in which Veolia plays an active part. The Group’s commitment to this issue will be consolidated with the opening**** of a plant during the course of 2020 to recyclePET plastic bottles in Pasuruan industrial area (East Java).
At present, several ministries have in turn been tasked with managing the waste in major tourist areas, such as Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara and Lombok. According to Edhy Prabowo, the Indonesian Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, the government will find ways to correctly manage the 12 or so metric tons of daily waste from Labuan Bajo, in particular though a collection program in the ocean, with the help of coastal communities.


*In 2017, the Indonesian government published its national plan to fight marine pollution in order to reach its goal of reducing marine pollution by 75% by 2025, with a budget of USD 1 billion per year. Complementary initiatives by local authorities and companies accompany these national measures.

**Single-use plastics have come under criticism from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry(Siti Nurbaya), which estimates that 9.8 billion plastic bags are used in Indonesia each year (95% end up as waste) and that 93 million straws are used by Indonesians every day.

***Project STOP = project STOP3 =