Jakarta. Indonesia Retail Association, a lobby group for the country's retailers, said on Sunday it will start to charge customers Rp 200 per plastic bags, pledging support to government-led initiative to limit plastic bag usage among customers.
The ubiquitous plastic bags are free of charge in Indonesia, donning the hands of convenience store customers and high end mall shoppers alike. Most of the bags end up in landfill or washed away by streams, choking the wildlife and clogging cities' drainage system.
A new policy from the Environment Ministry, to take effect from Feb. 21, will charge customers in major cities across Indonesia for plastic bags.
Customers in Jakarta, Bandung, Bekasi, Depok, Bogor, Tangerang, Solo, Semarang, Surabaya, Denpasar, Palembang, Medan, Balikpapan, Banjarmasin, Makassar, Ambon and a as yet unnamed city in Papua, will pay for the bags.
The association, known as Aprindo, has pledged its support for the policy.
"We would like to see it implemented in all regions in the country, so that people would be wiser in using them," Aprindo's chairman Roy Mandey said.
The ministry has not yet revealed how much it believes retailers should charge customers for bags, but Roy said Aprindo will seek an initial price of Rp 200, in order to avoid shocking customers.
Retailers can pay the difference of a government regulated price from corporate social responsibility programs, Roy said.
A recent study showed Indonesia dump between 0.5 and 1.3 million metric tons of plastic trash a year into the sea — the second largest single polluter in the world after China.