Bali Is Indonesia’s First Plastic-Free Province

Environmental activists, conservationists and green enthusiasts – rejoice! As climate change takes its toll on Mother Earth, more countries are working towards curbing its effects by taking matters into their own hands to play their part.

As of 23 June this year, supporters of the no-plastic movement can celebrate as Bali becomes the first plastic-free province in Indonesia! 

It is a known fact that Bali is one of the most visited places in the world. It welcomes 16 million foreign tourists annually and visitors flock to the island for its awe-inspiring landscapes, lavishing beaches, and its unique culture. But as tourism in Bali continues to thrive and grow, so does their wastage levels.

Over the past few years, marine plastic pollution has become one of Bali’s most challenging problems. Being a hotspot for tourists, Bali is being hit by this crisis severely as they have become the second largest contributor to plastic debris in the world.

The Bali Partnership

The Bali Partnership is a study supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with Governor Wayan Koster’s Waste Management Task Force and the provincial Environmental Agency (DLH). The purpose of this partnership was to ultimately control the pollution of ocean plastics through various waste management solutions.

Through this study, it revealed that while 48% of the waste generated in Bali is being properly disposed of in recycling bins and landfills, most of the remaining waste ends up in the ocean. That is equivalent to over 30,000 tonnes of plastic waste every year.

This partnership is a collective effort in unifying all of Indonesia’s governments, businesses and organizations, and waste experts to contribute to the country’s national initiative to ‘reduce ocean plastics by 70 per cent by 2025’.

New Year, New Bali

Photo by Artem Beliaikin

This province-wide plastic ban emphasizes on the use of plastic bags, plastic straws and polystyrene (yes, styrofoam) specifically. But this ban was not just implemented out of the blue. In fact, Bali had already been warming up to the ban since December 2018, when the government regulation against single-use plastics was passed. But despite the grace period given to ease into the change, the plastic ban in Bali had already been in full swing since then.

Restaurants have looked into more traditional packaging methods by using banana leaves, and local supermarkets have been ditching plastic bags and encouraging buyers to bring their own. Making the transition was not easy and has its own set of inconveniences. However, locals and tourists alike were more than willing and open to making the change.

This Is Just The Beginning

Along with Bali, many other cities are working towards becoming plastic-free as well. Some countries have already passed their laws on eliminating plastic in their local cities. In August 2017, Kenya implemented one of the world’s harshest plastic bag bans – those found with plastic bags could face a fine of up to $40,000 and even up to four years in jail. 

Believe it or not, commercial plastic use has only been widely popular in the 1960s – that’s only less than 70 years ago! If there was a time where people didn’t use plastic in their everyday lives, we can certainly do that again. Constantly promoting awareness on the harmful effects of plastic on our environment is the key to steering people in the right direction to be responsible for their own waste.

Bali will always be seen by the world. Hopefully, through this simple yet bold step towards achieving lower plastic wastage levels that will lead to cleaner oceans, the world will look towards Bali and choose to make the difference as well.

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