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[Bahasa Indonesia version]

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[A man collects plastic among rubbish floating on polluted Citarum river, Jakarta, Indonesia. Photograph: Bagus Indahono/EPA]

We are asking the Association of Retail Enterprises of Indonesia (APRINDO) to upgrade its efforts towards ensuring a healthier, and more plastic- and waste-free Jakarta including (1) Reducing the use of plastic packaging in all supermarkets (2) Stocking new ‘green product’ lines, and (3) Disposing supermarket waste responsibly.

We have a trash crisis in Indonesia! Especially in the capital Jakarta and other major cities, where tonnes and tonnes of rubbish are daily dumped in landfills (eg. Bantar Gebang, Bekasi). These landfills are struggling to cope with the ever-increasing waste, as the population grows and people consume more and more. Our trash can often end up in waterways, oceans and uncontrolled landfills, or is openly burned, polluting the air with toxic smoke and exposing urban dwellers to health risks such as groundwater pollution and respiratory diseases.

Despite government efforts (such as Bank Sampah), the work of individual trash collectors (pemulung) and movements like BebasSampah2020, there is still no effective citywide recycling scheme operating at scale, and limited public awareness of ‘going green’.

As a consequence of all this, Indonesia has become the second-largest contributor to marine plastic in the world! Millions of birds, fishes, marine mammals and corals are known to have suffered due to entanglement or ingestion of plastic debris. And eventually affecting the human too via contaminated seafood. Gigantic mountains of waste have also proven fatal during heavy rains; such as the catastrophe in Bandung (2005) where a waste avalanche at Leuwigajah dumpsite killed 143 people and buried 71 houses.

One of the biggest culprits to this epidemic is the unnecessary act of wrapping every single piece of produce in our grocery stores in plastic, as well as the cheap and readily available plastic products such as bags, bottles, straws and cutlery. The phthalate chemicals in plastics leach into our food through packagings, affecting our hormones and causing many serious health issues like asthma, allergies and even cancer.

We, as businesses and as consumers, continue to produce and use plastic in an irresponsible and destructive way. We share the responsibility to reverse this process in Jakarta.

Let’s start working on solutions!
We can start by Refusing, Reducing, Reusing, Repurposing and Recycling plastic-based products in our daily lives.

In this spirit, we ask you, the Association of Retail Enterprises of Indonesia (APRINDO) to take some simple steps to help work towards a healthier, and more plastic- and waste-free Jakarta. These steps include:
1. Reducing the use of plastic packaging in all the supermarkets by:
1.1. Avoiding wrapping fruits and vegetables in plastic and styrofoam.
Consider locally-made, biodegradable cassava- or seaweed-based packaging, instead.
1.2. Phase out the use of plastic bags in the fresh produce and meat/fish sections as well as at the counter and, in the short term, offering paper alternatives and training staff to ask customers if different products can be put in the same bag.
1.3 Encouraging consumers to bring their own bags or selling reusable cloth bags, and biodegradable or upcycled bags (made from non recyclable plastic).

2. Stocking new ‘green product’ lines such as 100% biodegradable bioplastic/ non-plastic disposable items/ reusable items. Eco-friendly alternatives (made of biodegradable bioplastic, cassava, bamboo, algae, wheat) for trash bags, straws, disposable cups, plates and cutlery are already available on the market in Indonesia.

By doing that, you would also support local production, SMEs and the economy!

3. Ensuring that food waste and discarded packaging in supermarkets are properly recycled or upcycled, by differentiating between organic waste, plastic, metals, etc. Provide recycling bins in store for staff and customers, including options for recycling products such as batteries.

By doing so you would align with retailers’ best practice in various countries in the world.

As a customer and a resident of Jakarta, I request that you, the Association of Retail Enterprises of Indonesia (APRINDO) upgrade your efforts to make environmental considerations central to your operations.


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