Starting today, Jakarta has officially banned single-use plastic bags at supermarkets, malls, and traditional markets. However, as is the case with most major changes in life, enforcing the ban has proved to be more difficult than it sounds on the first day.
According to numerous reports by local media outlets today, many vendors at Jakarta's traditional markets are still providing single-use plastic bags – locally known as kresek – to customers. Some have cited ignorance of the ban, while others say they're aware of the ban but are providing plastic bags to customers nonetheless for their convenience.
The plastic bag ban, which is mostly directed at retailers instead of customers, was passed by Governor Anies Baswedan in December of last year, though the Gubernatorial Regulation (Pergub) itself was drafted in late 2018. Anies held off on signing it into law because he didn't want to rush the policy before environmentally friendly alternatives to single-use plastic bags were widely available.
The gubernatorial regulation, coded Pergub 142/2019, comes into effect today after a six-month transition period, during which the government raised awareness about the specifics of the ban.
City market operator PD Pasar Jaya says this transition period should have been enough time for vendors to prepare for life without kresek.
"We have raised awareness and issued circulars since last year," PD Pasar Jaya Business and Development Director Anugerah Esa said today. "We will continue raising awareness about the ban in a persuasive manner. This is still a transition [period]."
Pergub 142/2019 includes fines of IDR5-25 million (US$350-1,740) for retailers or vendors that violate the plastic bag ban, as well as administrative sanctions that could come in the form of written warnings, fines, or suspension/revocation of business permits.
The current regulation does not include warung for the time being, so the local food stalls commonly found throughout the capital are still allowed to use kresek. Officials are reportedly still encouraging them to reduce plastic usage, and there's still the possibility that all forms of retailers will not be allowed to use plastic bags in the future.
In addition, retailers and vendors are provided with an added incentive, as the provincial government may reward those who comply with tax reductions. Eco-friendly bags, as defined in the Pergub, include those made from paper, cloth, or recycled materials.