JAKARTA: Indonesia, one of the world’s worst plastic polluters, is going to phase out single-use plastic products by the end of 2029, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya announced this week, as the country aims to achieve its zero-waste goals by 2040.
Asia has been identified as the biggest contributor to ocean plastic, and Indonesia — an archipelago nation of 270 million people — is a major source country.
Indonesia produced 68.5 million tons of waste in 2022, government data shows, more than 18 percent of which was plastic.
Less than 10 percent of waste is recycled in Indonesia, and more than half ends up in landfills.
“Plastic pollution is a real threat that will impact all communities across the world,” Nurbaya said in remarks issued on the occasion of World Environment Day.
“By the end of 2029, we will phase out several types of single-use plastics.”
This includes plastic shopping bags, plastic straws and Styrofoam items commonly used for food packaging.
“This is a way to deal with packaging wastes that are difficult to collect, have no (economic) value, (and are) hard to recycle,” the minister said, adding that manufacturers are also mandated to reduce their use of plastic packaging by 30 percent by the end of 2029 to “push the growth of sustainable businesses and the circular economy in Indonesia.”
The shift to a circular economy has been advocated by the UN Environment Program, which last month said countries and companies could slash plastic pollution by 80 percent in less than two decades by implementing deep policy and market changes.
“We are heading toward sustainable waste management (and the) practices of a circular economy,” Nurbaya said. “The potential of the circular economy not only brings economic benefits for the public but is also in line with achieving the zero-waste target by 2040, and zero emissions by 2050, or sooner.”
Indonesia has seen efforts to reduce single-use plastics, including Bali province’s 2019 ban on single-use plastic bags, straws, and Styrofoam, and a similar one enforced in the capital, Jakarta, in 2020.
But bans alone may not be enough when the world’s fourth most populous country is lacking a proper waste management system.
“Government commitments and policies must prioritize reduction efforts,” Muharram Atha Rasyadi, urban campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia, told Arab News.
“Sorting-based waste management is also key … so that some materials with the potential to become waste can be managed and not all of them turn into a residue that ends up in landfills.”