plastic-bag plastic bags.jpg
Photograph: Freeimages.com / Carlos Gustavo Curado

Indonesian retailers in 22 cities began charging fees for the use of plastic bags Sunday, an effort to reduce plastic waste. 

The Ministry for the Environment and Forestry launched the six-month trial initiative, with a recommended price of at least 200 rupiah (1.5 cents) for a plastic bag. However, some cities charged higher fees for each plastic bags to encourage customers to bring their own shopping bags. 

That means the capital, Jakarta, will see customers charged 5,000 rupiah per bag. Balikpapan, an oil and gas and mining city in East Kalimantan province, will charge 1,500 rupiah per plastic bag, while the West Java provincial capital of Bandung will stick with the 200-rupiah rate. 

Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil said selling plastic bags can generate 1 billion rupiah a day. 

"We can have 360 billion rupiah in a year from plastic bags. It can be allocated to buy waste trucks, build incinerators and a recycling plant," Kamil said. 

If the trial run proves to be successful, Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya said she will look at implementing the policy nationwide.     

On average, an individual in Indonesia uses about 700 plastic bags annually. Plastic waste is the second-highest source of waste produced in a domestic household, creating 5.4 million ton per year and making up 14 per cent of total waste production in Indonesia. 

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