FINALLY. After an ever-growing environmental plastic crisis, the Indonesian island of Bali is going plastic-free in 2022.
Think of Bali and no doubt picture-perfect visions of white sand beaches, hidden waterfalls and breathtaking landscapes spring to mind – and rightly so. But let’s be real here. For decades now, Bali has been fighting an ever-growing environmental crisis that’s littering our paradise island. We’re talking about plastic.
Ever since plastic was introduced to Bali without the necessary education and recycling facilities, plastic has been finding its way onto our beaches, into our waterways and even into our food. But that’s about to change. The river warriors at Sungai Watch have reported that by the end of 2022, Bali will finally ban single-use plastic. This comes ahead of the 2022 G20 Summit in Bali, with Bali’s Provincial Government revealing their action plan to eliminate and ban single-use plastics on the island.
So how – and why – has this come into effect? Well, way back in December 2018, Bali Governor, Wayan Koster, announced a ban on single-use plastic by June 2019, with a six month “warm up” period to give businesses time to react. The bill was officially instated, and for a blissful moment, dreaded styrofoam, plastic bags and plastic straws were prohibited island-wide. But of course, then the pandemic hit, and all plans went out the window as single-use plastics once again infiltrated the community for health, safety and hygiene reasons.
Thankfully, the peak of the pandemic has now passed and environmental issues are resurfacing. So, on May 24th and 27th 2022, the Bali Provincial Environmental Department (DKLH Bali) invited regency level government, police, civil society organisations and SMEs working in waste management to discuss implementation of the Governor’s regulation which bans the production, distribution and provision of single-use plastic bags, straws and polystyrene. This regulation is referred to as Pergub #97 2018, Pembatasan Timbulan Sampah Plastik Sekali Pakai (PSP).
Jane Fischer of Bali Waste Platform said: “The Pergub #97 2018 has actually been in effect since mid-2019, however, the pandemic caused setbacks in the province-wide implementation. The recent meetings in May were co-facilitated by DKLH Bali and Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia, which included explanations by DKLH on the variable alternatives, and a presentation by Kopernik on the false solution alternatives, which are also banned. Much discussion was given to regency-level strategies to implement part or all of the ban in their respective regencies as soon as possible.”
Finally then, it seems that Bali’s ban on single-use plastic is one again getting back on track. And this couldn’t have been possible without the tireless work of local organisations, activists and eco-warriors on-the-ground here in Bali and greater Indonesia. Just some of these warriors include:
💚 Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia
💚 Bali Waste Platform
💚 Diet Kantong Plastik
💚 PPLH (The Environmental Education Centre)
💚 Merah Putih Hijau
💚 Eco Bali Recycling
💚 Trash Hero Indonesia
💚 Zero Waste Indonesia
💚 Griya Luhu
💚 Bye Bye Plastic Bags
💚 Sungai Watch
The Sungai Watch team have said: “We dream of a Bali without plastic and where every river is plastic-free. This is a great first step and we hope that this law will come into effect and will be properly enforced by authorities”. Well, we couldn’t agree more.
Fighting for change: Bali’s plastic past
Ever since 2013, Bali’s very own activists at Bye Bye Plastic Bags have been fighting for a plastic-free future. The wave-making founders, Isabel and Melati (two sisters who initiated the youth-driven movement when they were just 13 and 15 years-old) have campaigned relentlessly against the production of plastic bags on Bali. Finally, their pleas came to to fruition in 2019 when the plastic-ban ban was officially instated. Below is the statement from the Bye Bye Plastic Bags girls:
“The 23rd of June 2019 marks a big day in history for all of us activists, environmentalists and longtime supporters of the plastic free movement. It is a day to celebrate as we welcome the long awaited ban on single use plastic bags, straws and polystyrene on our island home, Bali. The island wide governor regulation “pergub #97 2018” that passed on December 21st, 2018 has since been “warming up” the island to the final ban. Supermarkets and restaurants in Bali have already started preparing by changing back to more traditional ways of packaging, has anyone seen the banana leaf wraps? They are the BEST.
So, what’s the implementation process looking like? Well, good news is that the vision is to involve the local level authorities and village laws (Perdes), traditional and adat laws (i.e Perarem), which are able to support effective implementation on a local level. Our team celebrated the launch of the ban by going to the governors office with cake and flowers to say a very big thank you and terima kasih!“
The girls at Bye Bye Plastic Bags have made serious waves since 2013, and they even took the island’s plastic problem to the international stage. Over the years, the girls have spoken at international Ted Talks, initiated meetings with government leaders, held over 1,345 presentations globally (including United Nations conferences in New York), and have expanded to 50+ teams worldwide. They have also distributed more than 10,700 educational booklets to schools, and have been recognised on CNN, Al Jazeera and on Forbes’ Top 10 Most Inspiring Women list. And psst – we even featured Melati in our list of Bali’s 101 Local Legends.
Yup, change is finally happening, and while there are plenty more steps to be taken to rid the island of this toxic polluter, Bali’s future has never looked so clean and green.