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Image: Cleaner Bali beaches. Padang Padang. Credit: ST

The Bali Partnership, supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has revealed findings from an extensive waste and ocean plastic research program across Bali since the beginning of this year to form a comprehensive plan to end plastics pollution from the island.

Bali’s rapid economic growth and thriving tourism has led to growing levels of waste, with the island’s waste management not always keeping pace, wrote a report in yesterday. The results show just over 48% of waste generated in Bali is managed responsibly, either through recycling or landfill, while the rest is burned or pollutes land, waterways and the ocean. As a result, 33,000 tons of Bali’s plastic waste ends up in the ocean each year.

The analysis is a result of a five-month research effort by the Bali Partnership, in collaboration with Governor I Wayan Koster’s Waste Management Task Force and the provincial Environmental Agency (DLH). The Bali Partnership was created to stop ocean plastics pollution through circular waste management solutions and contribute to Indonesia’s National Action Plan on Marine Plastic Debris, a commitment to reduce ocean plastics by 70% by 2025. In addition, this initiative also hopes to support the implementation of Bali government’s policies in reducing plastic waste pollution and the regional policy and strategy on waste management (JAKSTRADA Pengelolaan Sampah).

As quoted by Straits Times, Ida Bagus Mandhara Brasika from the Bali Governor’s waste management task force said in a statement. “What happens in Bali will always be noticed by the world. In Bali we are now at the right moment to stop our ocean leakage… We’ll start from Bali and the impact will be global.”

The goal of the Bali Partnership is to support President Jokowi’s goal of reducing ocean plastic levels 70% by bringing together the expertise and passion of the many organisations across Bali and applying it in a coordinated, focused way across the island’s 57 sub-districts with the highest needs for intervention. The Bali Partnership research is the starting point for achieving this ambition: it shows how waste, particularly plastics, is disposed; the challenges and the opportunities for preventing plastic pollution; and the regions with the most urgent need of waste management and waste reduction support.

“Contributing to local solutions and working closely with local leadership in Indonesia, with the aim of ending the global challenge of ocean plastics is a priority for the Norwegian government,” said Bjørnar Dahl Hotvedt, Charge d’Affaires to Indonesia from Norway, which supports projects to tackle ocean plastics in the country, including the Bali Partnership. “An evidence-based approach ensures the success of the Bali Partnership. We hope the Partnership can serve as a model for how different interests can come together to achieve a shared objective.”

The survey, which monitored the island’s rivers and landfill sites and included 950 local households, as well as interviews with waste officials and volunteers, found Bali generates about 1.6 million tonnes of waste each year.

It was found that about 303,000 tonnes of that waste is plastic, of which 33,000 tonnes leak into Bali’s waterways. Also Indonesian and international tourists generate more than three times the waste per day than Bali residents and accounts for approximately 13% of the total waste generated on the island.

However, approximately 48% of Bali’s waste is responsibly managed either through recycling or landfill, but a significant portion of collected waste never reaches a recycling facility or any of Bali’s 10 official landfills.

It was also found that 7% of Bali’s plastic waste is collected for recycling, with 20% of households using the informal sector to recycle their waste, and 6% utilise waste banks.

On a positive, Bali residents are ready for change. 87% are willing to sort waste and are ready to make the effort to reduce, reuse and recycle, and a focused effort to solve waste challenges in 15 of the 57 sub-districts of Bali will reduce Bali’s ocean plastic by 44%.

More than 400 community, private-sector, government and cultural and religious organisations are active in clean-ups, education, waste collection and recycling. They need support to focus their activities on the 15 sub-districts where the need is greatest.

“There is nothing more important than integrity. The results of the research on ocean plastic leakage in Bali are a great way for us to see Bali in an honest way,” said Ni Made Widiasari of the Governor’s Waste Management Task Force. “This research helps us work with the facts to better focus our actions, as a way to take responsibility and show our love for the environment.”

In the next phase, the Bali Partnership will raise funds to conduct a pilot using this powerful, multi-stakeholder approach in one of the highest leakage sub-districts to ensure comprehensive waste management and stop ocean plastics pollution.

The first phase of this work included the Bali Governor’s Waste Management Task Force, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Environmental Agency of Bali Province, the University of Udayana, the University of Leeds, the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), and SYSTEMIQ.

“The world is struggling to answer the question: How do we stop ocean plastic pollution permanently and do so as quickly and cost efficiently as possible?” said Joi Danielson, Program Director, Ocean Plastics Asia, at SYSTEMIQ. “The Bali Partnership is our attempt at answering this question. Our aim is to bring the Balinese and international community together to solve the root causes behind this challenge, in Bali’s highest pollution areas.”

“Now we have comprehensive data to support the government’s commitment to reduce ocean plastics by 70% by 2025,” said I Gede Hendrawan, Faculty of Marine Sciences and Fisheries.

The data collected was used to map the flow of after-use plastic through the waste system and environment using the newly developed ISWA Plastic Pollution Calculator. This new tool was created by the University of Leeds on behalf of the International Solid Waste Association’s Marine Litter Task Force and can for the first time map the flow of plastic waste from its sources. The Calculator can be applied to any region or country to identify the mechanisms of plastic leakage, key hotspots, and potential solutions.

“The entire Bali island is now benefiting from cutting-edge tools to prevent plastics pollution. Our research team, as part of water@leeds, created the Plastics Pollution Calculator, a novel methodology for quantifying sources, pathways and hotspots of plastic pollution, stemming from unmanaged solid waste,” said Dr. Costas Velis. “In this study, we applied data and systems analytics, arriving to unprecedented opportunities for evidence-based solutions. Knowing where plastics pollution comes from, suitable policy and engineering interventions can be prioritised.”