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Bali's Plague of Plastic

Groundswell of Support Growing for Move by Bali Governor to Outlaw Plastic Bags at Island's Supermarkets.

(7/10/2010) Supermarkets are being asked by Bali's Governor [See: Paper or Cloth?] to urgently replace the use of plastic bags with paper or cloth carriers. Public support for this change has come from many sectors, including a recent gathering of several environmental groups held at the Hypermarket Mall Bali at the Galleria Kuta.

Quoted in Radar Bali, Tuyun Ismawati of Bali Fokus, spoke at the gathering, saying, "beyond issues of aesthetics and health, plastic waste destroys the natural environment."

The amount of plastic waste generated by Bali is of genuine concern. Of the estimated 5,000 tons of waste produced by the island's population every day, some 15% is in the form of plastic waste. In the aggregate, this equals between 600 750 tons of plastic waste every day. To help you visualize, imagine 167 large trucks of plastic waste being produced every day of the year.

Four public groups in Bali - Bali Fokus, Beautiful Bali without Plastic (Bali Cantik Tanpa Plastik), Yayasan Gus and EcoBali - have joined efforts to invite the public to be aware of the threat posed by the mounting piles of plastic waste via the presentation of education films, conducting informative quizzes, circulating petitions, and essay competitions to support governor Pastika's call for a ban in the use of plastic bags.

These four organizations are unified in their call for a ban on plastic waste. The group depicts the use of plastic as a symptom of the instant gratification of modern society with little concern for the environmental implications of this life style. Moreover, because plastic bags are made from fossil fuels, they also represent a wasteful use of a diminishing natural resources.

According to Alex Ryan of Bali Cantik Tanpa Plastik, every day a large supermarket distributes thousands of plastic bags to its customers. Given away free-of-charge, these bags are used for only 5-15 minutes, discarded and then become part of the earth's environment in the form of waste for 500-1,000 years into the future. Many of these bags end up on Bali's beaches, damaging the reputation of the island's international image.

Alex welcomed news that the Governor was preparing a regulation that would soon compel supermarkets to abandon the use of plastic bags.

In anticipation and in sympathy for the new rules, many supermarkets in Bali have begun selling cloth bags and cardboard boxes to their customers. Dijon - a food shop at Simpang Siur has for several years offered cash discounts to customers who bring cloth bags to carry home their purchases.