Close your eyes and picture the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali. Sea turtles, turquoise waters, and perfect swells probably come to mind but it’s, unfortunately, a flawed reality. If you’ve spent any time as of late at the Indonesian archipelago, you’re seeing trash. And lots of it.
Bali’s beaches are being trashed. Literally. It’s the island’s worst kept secret, and there’s even a season when it becomes excessive. ABC News reported that from December to March the tide actually worsens the onslaught of garbage on Bali’s once pristine shores. Thanks to seasonal winds and rainfall during this period, thousands of tons of trash pile on beaches like Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Canggu. Dismayed, many altruistic locals have stepped up to clear the beaches, but in the bigger scheme of things, it won’t really make a lasting dent. Indonesia currently ranks number two for the largest contributor of plastic bottles, bags, and other waste being dumped into the big blue ocean.
The countries polluting the most into the ocean. Statista Infographic.
After considerable efforts from both the Balinese and a variety of NGOs, Bali governor Wayan Koster has taken measures a step further. Starting in June, all single-use plastics—ranging from plastic bags to styrofoam—will be banned from the island. It’s Koster's hope that this reduces plastic pollution in Bali by 70%, according to The Straits Times. The new policy will be aimed at producers, distributors, suppliers and business actors. Should they fail to comply, administrative sanctions like refusing to extend business permits will be imposed as a consequence.
The plastic problem has become so pervasive that a few areas of the island are considered garbage emergencies. In 2017, workers were sent to the busiest beaches on the island—Jimbaran, Kuta and Seminyak—to clear off 100 tons of junk per day, according to The Telegraph. But isolating the source of the problem is not particularly easy. The exact origin of this tidal wave of trash has been difficult to pinpoint, but experts believe 80% comes from the island itself.
These goals are aggressive but necessary. For an island with an economy dependent on tourism, something needs to change. It’s also imperative not only for Bali but for the greater health of the ocean, which right now is projected to have more plastic than fish by 2050. Yikes.
To learn more about the current ocean crisis, we'd suggest checking out A Plastic Ocean.