Oct 6, 2016

Conservation

Bali’s Recycling Plastic Bottleneck and How To Play Your Part

30 million plastic bottles are discarded in Bali every month. Time to do something about it!

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There’s a mounting problem with bottled water in Bali – but before we even tell you about it, there’s great news - there are solutions that you can be a part of. Read on to learn more about how bottled water is threatening the eco-system on this island, and what you can do on your next trip to be a positive force for change.

Every month in beautiful Bali, 30 million plastic bottles are bought, used and discarded. Some of these are recycled or reused, a few of these are made from recycled or biodegradable plastics, but many become litter and landfill. Within a small island eco-system like Bali, this has the potential to become a fragile situation.

Discarded plastic bottles become a nuisance to farmers, an obstacle for surfers, and a danger to the wildlife of Bali. Given it’s estimated that plastic bottles can take anywhere between 450 and 1000 years to break down, it’s easy to see that this problem needs to be addressed before it begins.

Globally, almost half the plastic we buy is used just once and then thrown away, with only one fifth of water bottles making it into recycling programs.

Plastic Threatens Our Oceans

Bali is a beautiful, beachy destination. Anyone who has visited can speak to the strength of communities, the stunning seaside views, and the rich jungle and wildlife. As fortunate visitors, we can – and should – support local reduce / reuse / recycle efforts to protect this island oasis.

However, plastic disposed of in Bali is not just a problem for Indonesia – plastic can drift for years and will likely end up in one of five gyres – a gyre is basically a massive, floating garbage patch in the ocean where plastic gathers thanks to current circulation. Scientists estimate that there are 200 areas in our ocean where no life organisms can grow, due to the inorganic waste.

The Mounting Problem

There are a few factors why Indonesia is struggling to keep up with the amount of waste and recycling.

With 250 million people and thousands of islands making up the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia, the logistics on organising waste processing and recycling to this scale is extremely difficult, and costly. Unfortunately, this means there isn’t a unified system that can cope with the scale of waste and recycling on a regular basis. 

Bali is just one of these islands, and ROLE Foundation say “Every 24 hours, 15,000 cubic metres of trash is disposed of along Bali’s roadsides and at illegal dump sites, enough to completely fill six Olympic-sized swimming pools every single day”. 

Solutions for Sustainability

There are some fantastic, local-focus recycling projects and ocean clean-up initiatives we like in Bali – we encourage you to find out more on the work they’re doing:

The authorities in Bali could place a ban on single-use plastics. Cinqueterre in Italy has banned plastic bottles, Rwanda has banned plastic bottles – it is possible to implement and enforce legal initiatives to limit use, and therefore limit waste. We're looking forward to a bottle-free Bali one day!

But what can I do on my next trip?

Changing laws takes time and a shift of the mindset of lawmakers. Recycling initiatives and clean ups are solutions after the problem has already begun. But, if you’re visiting Bali in the near future, staying hydrated and drinking safe water is a must in the Indonesian heat, so what’s a GOOD Traveller to do?

Here are some practical steps you can take to ensure you have a positive impact on the environment.

1.     BYO reusable drink bottle, or buy one when you arrive to support local retailers (Bottle for Botol sells online and in stores in Bali: for every bottle you purchase, one is donated to a student in Bali). Most accommodation providers, cafes, and beach clubs have clean water coolers for you to refill from, for free! Also, small and inexpensive plastic bottles are not always made to food grade – reuse of these, especially when exposed to direct sunlight, can cause chemicals to leach into your drinking water. Choose a reusable bottle for both the environment and your health.

2.     Use your consumer power, and request filtered ‘free flow’ water when eating out. This lets your wait staff know you would not like a plastic bottle and are happy with clean drinking water served in a glass. The more consumers ask, the greater the demand on businesses to change their practices. And don’t forget to ask for no plastic straw!

3.     If you aren’t able to avoid buying bottled water, go for the largest size bottle you can find, so you’ll contribute less plastic overall.

4.     If you do need to dispose of a plastic bottle, carry it with you until you’re able to recycle it. Hotels and some cafes have facilities to do this for you.

You can also refuse plastic bags while shopping, buy groceries at the local market where fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t pre-packaged in plastic, and ensure any toiletries, gifts or other items you’re bringing to Bali don’t have excess packaging that you’ll need to dispose of once you arrive.

Together, we can support local efforts to protect and maintain this exciting tourism destination - ensuring it is just as relaxing and beautiful as ever for the future generations.

See More:

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GOOD Travel blog author

Fiona Millar

Fiona feels most at home travelling to new places! Living in New Zealand, she's spoilt for beautiful, local places. Fiona supports GOOD Travel in building a global community of travellers.

There’s a mounting problem with bottled water in Bali – but before we even tell you about it, there’s great news - there are solutions that you can be a part of. Read on to learn more about how bottled water is threatening the eco-system on this island, and what you can do on your next trip to be a positive force for change.

Every month in beautiful Bali, 30 million plastic bottles are bought, used and discarded. Some of these are recycled or reused, a few of these are made from recycled or biodegradable plastics, but many become litter and landfill. Within a small island eco-system like Bali, this has the potential to become a fragile situation.

Discarded plastic bottles become a nuisance to farmers, an obstacle for surfers, and a danger to the wildlife of Bali. Given it’s estimated that plastic bottles can take anywhere between 450 and 1000 years to break down, it’s easy to see that this problem needs to be addressed before it begins.

Globally, almost half the plastic we buy is used just once and then thrown away, with only one fifth of water bottles making it into recycling programs.

Plastic Threatens Our Oceans

Bali is a beautiful, beachy destination. Anyone who has visited can speak to the strength of communities, the stunning seaside views, and the rich jungle and wildlife. As fortunate visitors, we can – and should – support local reduce / reuse / recycle efforts to protect this island oasis.

However, plastic disposed of in Bali is not just a problem for Indonesia – plastic can drift for years and will likely end up in one of five gyres – a gyre is basically a massive, floating garbage patch in the ocean where plastic gathers thanks to current circulation. Scientists estimate that there are 200 areas in our ocean where no life organisms can grow, due to the inorganic waste.

The Mounting Problem

There are a few factors why Indonesia is struggling to keep up with the amount of waste and recycling.

With 250 million people and thousands of islands making up the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia, the logistics on organising waste processing and recycling to this scale is extremely difficult, and costly. Unfortunately, this means there isn’t a unified system that can cope with the scale of waste and recycling on a regular basis. 

Bali is just one of these islands, and ROLE Foundation say “Every 24 hours, 15,000 cubic metres of trash is disposed of along Bali’s roadsides and at illegal dump sites, enough to completely fill six Olympic-sized swimming pools every single day”. 

Solutions for Sustainability

There are some fantastic, local-focus recycling projects and ocean clean-up initiatives we like in Bali – we encourage you to find out more on the work they’re doing:

The authorities in Bali could place a ban on single-use plastics. Cinqueterre in Italy has banned plastic bottles, Rwanda has banned plastic bottles – it is possible to implement and enforce legal initiatives to limit use, and therefore limit waste. We're looking forward to a bottle-free Bali one day!

But what can I do on my next trip?

Changing laws takes time and a shift of the mindset of lawmakers. Recycling initiatives and clean ups are solutions after the problem has already begun. But, if you’re visiting Bali in the near future, staying hydrated and drinking safe water is a must in the Indonesian heat, so what’s a GOOD Traveller to do?

Here are some practical steps you can take to ensure you have a positive impact on the environment.

1.     BYO reusable drink bottle, or buy one when you arrive to support local retailers (Bottle for Botol sells online and in stores in Bali: for every bottle you purchase, one is donated to a student in Bali). Most accommodation providers, cafes, and beach clubs have clean water coolers for you to refill from, for free! Also, small and inexpensive plastic bottles are not always made to food grade – reuse of these, especially when exposed to direct sunlight, can cause chemicals to leach into your drinking water. Choose a reusable bottle for both the environment and your health.

2.     Use your consumer power, and request filtered ‘free flow’ water when eating out. This lets your wait staff know you would not like a plastic bottle and are happy with clean drinking water served in a glass. The more consumers ask, the greater the demand on businesses to change their practices. And don’t forget to ask for no plastic straw!

3.     If you aren’t able to avoid buying bottled water, go for the largest size bottle you can find, so you’ll contribute less plastic overall.

4.     If you do need to dispose of a plastic bottle, carry it with you until you’re able to recycle it. Hotels and some cafes have facilities to do this for you.

You can also refuse plastic bags while shopping, buy groceries at the local market where fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t pre-packaged in plastic, and ensure any toiletries, gifts or other items you’re bringing to Bali don’t have excess packaging that you’ll need to dispose of once you arrive.

Together, we can support local efforts to protect and maintain this exciting tourism destination - ensuring it is just as relaxing and beautiful as ever for the future generations.

MORE BLOGS

Fiona Millar

Fiona feels most at home travelling to new places! Living in New Zealand, she's spoilt for beautiful, local places. Fiona supports GOOD Travel in building a global community of travellers.

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