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Bali Single Use Plastic Ban to Come Into Force This Year

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Shops in Denpasar are already handing out cotton tote bags instead of plastic (Photo: Facebook/ByeByePlasticBags)

A ban on single-use plastics across the island of Bali was announced by Governor Wayan Koster on 24 December 2018.

It is hoped that the ban, which will include shopping bags, styrofoam and plastic straws will reduce Bali's marine plastic problem by 70 per cent. The most currently available data lists Indonesia as the world's second biggest marine plastic polluter with up to 1.2 million tonnes of plastic finding its way into the ocean on an annual basis. China, ranked in first place, contributes as much as 3.53 million tonnes of ocean plastic per year.

British diver Rich Horner swims through a plastic cloud off Nusa Penida in 2018

The problem of plastic pollution in the Asia-Pacific region was starkly highlighted by a video filmed by British diver Rich Horner during a dive around Nusa Penida, just of the southeastern coast of Bali. While the phenomenon in the video is a rare event, it clearly demonstrates the huge problem that plastic waste presents, especially given that the video was filmed in an area with a significant resident population of reef manta rays.

The announced ban is largely thanks to the work of a youth-driven NGO named Bye Bye Plastic Bags (BBPB). The group was founded in 2013 by then 12- and 10-year old sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen, who have since gone on to speak at the world-renowned TED Talks and were also voted onto Forbes's list of the Top 10 Most Inspirational Women in Asia. The sisters also received CNN's Heroes Award and were nominated among Time Magazine's Top 25 Most Influential Teenagers of 2018. BBPB offshoots have since been launched around the world, including in Australia, America, the UK, Spain, Germany, Japan, Nigeria, and a host of other nations.

Melati and Isabel Wijsen speak at the TED Talks

The ban commenced around the region of Denpasar on 1 January 2019, although Governer Koster has allowed a six-month grace period for manufacturers and retailers. 'This policy is aimed at producers, distributors, suppliers and business actors, including individuals, to suppress the use of single-use plastics.' said Mr Koster. 'They must substitute plastics with other materials.' He added that should businesses fail to comply with the new policy then 'we will take action,' he said, 'like not extending their business permits.'

Bali is the latest in a growing number of regions and nations that are committed to removing single-use plastic from the market. To date, 53 countries have implemented total bans, regional bans, or voluntary charges for the use of plastic bags.

For more information on Bye Bye Plastic Bags campaign, visit their website at www.byebyeplasticbags.org or join their Facebook group.

 

 

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