Eco Warriors Unite at ROLE Plastics Conference 2019

Last month, members of the Gili Eco Trust travelled to Bali to join the ROLE Foundation’s 3rd annual conference and debate regarding the Zero waste to ocean debate.

We have long known that Indonesia is the 2nd largest contributor to plastic waste entering our oceans in the world. More than 250 people from various organizations and initiatives joined together in the Zero Waste to Oceans – Community Environment & Skills Center to discuss and learn more about who is responsible. Eight speakers from different associations in Bali spoke during the conference.

Introduced by Jane Fisher from IWP’s (Indonesia Waste Platform) the debate started with the question ‘who is responsible?’ as more often than not, plastic and packaging producers insist the blame is on the irresponsible consumer of their product whilst they should be taking responsibility for the materials they produce. More than 500 companies in Bali alone are using single use plastics that cannot currently be recycled in Bali, and one main reason recyclers won’t take on such single use plastics is down to its extremely low recyclable value.

In order to achieve Indonesia’s commitment of reducing plastic waste in the ocean by 30% by 2025, it is essential that Government puts more pressure on those corporates and take legal actions accordingly. Using the term Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) industries should be taking responsible actions for their products throughout their entire life-cycle.

Doctor I Gede Hendrawan published reports on marine waste and their origins after Balinese districts largely hold Java responsible for the trash washed up on Bali beaches in rainy season. His findings drew the conclusion that a large majority can be traced as Bali’s waste and insists on declaring a ‘garbage emergency’.

Bali Buda’s Brenda Ritchmond coined the term ‘self government’ as we cannot count on governments to take appropriate actions in the time span needed and more acts need to be carried out by everyone to implement sustainable solutions.

Piet Van Zyl, from Positive Impact Forever, explained that it was difficult for the locals to make a connection between their waste (mis)management (throwing everything in rivers) and actual marine waste. He also stressed the fact that zero waste doesn’t exist, everybody is making waste even if it’s a little. Recycling is not the answer and there is no “magic bin” (social acceptance of disposing of your rubbish in a bin thinking that now it has been dealt with). He finished stating that “Reducing marine waste by 30% before 2025 is progress, however it is not a final achievement”.

How can we stay positive amongst all of this?

Dr. Surya Anaya (Komunitas Peduli Sampah Bali), Christian Fritz (ecoSmart hub) and Dwi Jayanthi (Plastic Detox) showed many single use plastic alternatives that be introduced on a daily basis. Explaining that there are many different solutions to reduce the use of plastic: metal box for take-away, reusable bottle, alternatives to plastic straw. Raza Helmi from No plastic Indonesia highlighted the influencing impact of social media to stop using disposable products. They all stress how easy it is to take small steps and make responsible choices to reduce the problem especially with single use plastic – even for those who are more reluctant and don’t want to lose their convenient consumer habits.

Following the conference, small debates were held amongst members to determine roles of the government action over marine plastic waste along with stalls from environmental entrepreneurs and sustainable alternatives and solutions to the problem with plastic. The Gili Eco Trust had a popup eco market stall to show some of the campaigns we continue to work with on Gili Trawangan to forward motions towards a zero-waste-to-oceans approach.

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