A man collects plastic waste from a heavily polluted river in Bekasi, West Java, in this January 2019 file photo. The House of Representatives wants industries to respond to the government's tax on plastic shopping bags by creating more environmentally friendly alternatives. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Gov't Hopes Plastic Tax Will Force Industry to Find Eco-Friendly Alternatives

BY :ANTARA & NUR YASMIN

JULY 11, 2019

Jakarta. The House of Representatives wants industries to respond to the government's tax on plastic shopping bags by creating more environmentally friendly alternatives.

"We hope industries will respond creatively. This want to encourage innovation," Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of House Commission XI, which oversees finance and banking, said in a statement on Wednesday.

She said the tax should not be a burden on consumers only, and advised industries to consider the impact of plastic on the environment.

Eva said the commission had yet to decide which industries would be subject to a tax on plastic. "It's the ministers' job; Commission IX will follow up with the plastic tax," she said.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati previously indicated that the government was likely tax plastic at Rp 30,000 ($2.10) per kilogram, Rp 200 per sheet.

A study by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) last year showed that Indonesia was responsible for between 100,000 and 400,000 metric tons of marine plastic pollution annually, making it the world's largest marine polluter and second-largest plastic waste producer.

The minister said virgin plastic will be taxed more, as it takes up to 100 years to decompose, while more eco-friendly plastic, which take two to three years to decompose, will be taxed at a lower rate.

"It will depend on the type of plastic," Sri Mulyani said on July 2.

The Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) said the tax would encourage industries to start producing more environmentally friendly plastic.

Indonesia is following the example of various other countries that have imposed tax on plastic, such as South Africa ($2.90/kg), Denmark ($3.20/kg) and Ireland ($23.50/kg).

Closer to home, Malaysia imposed a plastic tax of $4.40/kg, Hong Kong ($5.80/kg) and the Philippines ($18.30/kg).

The United States, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Botswana, Kenya and Rwanda have banned the use of plastic bags altogether.

The Bali provincial government imposed a ban on single-plastics, including plastic bags, polystyrene and plastic straws, in December last year. Bogor, West Java, and Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, also prohibited the use of plastic bags in retail stores.

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