Asia Minute: Bali’s Trash Struggles

Jun 21, 2019

Credit Senior Master Sgt. Burke Baker / U.S. Air Force

Plastic is a growing problem for ocean waters — not only in Hawaii but around the world. And new research this week from an Asian island nation shows part of that challenge involves the travel and tourism industry.

The Indonesian island of Bali has a trash problem.

A report this week caps a five-month study, finding that less than half of the garbage produced on the island is recycled or sent to landfill sites. The public-private Bali Partnership says the rest is burned or winds up dumped in the ocean — or in the island’s rivers and streams. 

That group is made up of representatives from the central and local governments, as well as academics, business people and activists.

Indonesia’s federal government is pursuing a goal of cutting ocean waste by 70% by the year 2025, and it has budgeted the equivalent of up to a billion U.S. dollars to do so.

This week’s findings show there is a lot of work ahead.

The study shows that Bali produces about 1.6 million tons of waste each year, and nearly 20% of that is plastic. Researchers broke down their results by hotels, other businesses and households, and concluded that tourists generate more than three times the waste that local residents do.

Last year, Bali banned single-use plastics — from straws to shopping bags, as well as polystyrene packaging.

Activists say the island is still short of recycling and composting facilities — as well as systems to separate different kinds of trash.