UNEP would like to thank the World Resources Institute, Duke University and the University of Strathclyde for their invaluable assistance with the collation of these case-studies.


Plastic Pollution in indonesia

Located in Southeast Asia, the Republic of Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, comprising 3,977 miles between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, with a land and sea area of 5,180,053 km2 (Jing & Sutikno, 2020). The country consists of 17,508 islands (Jing & Sutikno, 2020), 86,700 km2 of coral reefs and 24,300 km2 of mangrove forests (Sodik, 2021). As the fourth most populous country, with more than 250 million people, Indonesia is also the second-largest plastic polluter in the world behind China (Republic of Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF), 2020). This is largely due to the rapid urbanization that Indonesia is currently going through (World Bank, 2019). From 2000 to 2010, the country’s urban population increased by about 3% annually (World Bank, 2019). By 2016, the urban population reached 142 million, representing more than half of the total population (World Bank, 2019). Estimates suggest that by 2025, about 68% of the total population will live in urban areas, which is an approximate increase of 4 million people each year (World Bank, 2019). As a result, there has been development gaps between the fast-growing urban population and the provision of basic services and infrastructure, with inadequate solid waste management being one of the most prominent examples (World Bank, 2019). Currently, the waste management sector is significantly underfunded in terms of investments and operations (World Bank, 2018). Local government allocations are at $5-6 per capital/per annum, a level much lower than the international benchmarks of $15-20 per capita/per annum (World Bank, 2018). Therefore, at the current development rate, the increase of solid waste management infrastructure will not be able to keep up with the waste generation (MoEF, 2020).

In 2017, Indonesia’s waste generation reached 65.8 million tonnes (MoEF, 2020). This number is estimated to be continuously growing in the near future. Plastic pollution is part of the broader problem of waste management. At the moment, Indonesia produces 3.22 million tonnes of unmanaged plastic waste a year, of which about 1.29 million tonnes becomes ocean plastic waste (Jambeck et al., 2015) through illegal dumping into the ocean,  the production of plastic debris in coastal areas, and fishing and industrial activities (Li et al., 2016) . This represents 10.1% of plastic marine debris globally (Lestari et al., 2019). The resulting marine debris has caused serious negative impacts on marine life, livelihoods, and public health (Jing & Sutikno, 2020). Additionally, there are approximately 10 billion plastic bags (equivalent to ~85,000 tonnes of plastics) directly released into the country’s local environment every year (MoEF, 2020). Together, these unmanaged plastic wastes do not only pollute marine environments around Indonesia, but also pose a threat to the country’s river systems. For example, Brantas, Solo, Serayu, and Progo are four rivers in Indonesia that rank among the most polluted 20 rivers in the world (MoEF, 2020). As solid waste management is increasingly being viewed as a critical part of the rapidly developing Indonesian economy, the government has been increasing its effort on this sector and the amount of infrastructure spending (World Bank, 2019). For example, for solid waste management in general, some early attempts include the Solid Waste Management Act (NO.18/2008), which aims to improve the solid waste management in Indonesia by closing all the opening-dumping sites by 2013 and requiring all large cities to send their waste exclusively to sanitary disposal facilities. Unfortunately, this ambitious target was not achieved. In 2018, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry recorded that 167 open dump waste disposal facilities were still operating (Sistem Informasi Pengelolaan Sampah Nasional (SIPSN); National Solid Waste Management Information System, 2O18). Estimates suggest that only 60% of the 142 million urban residents have access to waste collection services, and only 55% of urban solid waste is handled at a transfer station or processing facility (World Bank, 2019).

indonesian Legislation to Address Plastic Pollution

Since the Solid Waste Management Act (NO.18/2008), there have been many waste management laws and regulation rules introduced at national, regional, and city levels, with some addressing plastic pollution as part of the broader issue. Figure 1. below show a summary of national waste management regulations in Indonesia as of Aug 2019, and Figure 2 summarizes current waste management related regulations in Indonesia at all geographical levels. This section will introduce and discuss some of these legislation efforts.

Figure 1. Summary of National waste management regulations in Indonesia (MoEF, 2020)

Figure 1. Summary of National waste management regulations in Indonesia (MoEF, 2020)

Figure 2. Waste management related regulations in Indonesia (MoEF, 2020)

Figure 2. Waste management related regulations in Indonesia (MoEF, 2020)


Solid Waste Management Act (No.18/2008)

As previously introduced, Solid Waste Management Act (No. 18/2008) is a basic law on waste management with a main focus on municipal solid waste management. It recognizes the fact that relying solely on landfills will only continue to exacerbate the solid waste pollution issue. The Act set the ambitious target to end all open dump waste disposal by 2013. However, this goal was not achieved as the Ministry of Environment and Forestry recorded 167 open dump waste disposal facilities that are still in operation (SIPSN, 2018). Although there was no specific regulations targeting plastic waste, the Act did order to give disincentive to “the producer using production material that is not easily processed by natural process, un-reuse, and/or un-recycle and not environmental friendly”.

Government decree No. 81/2012 on waste management of household waste and household-like waste

The Government Regulation No. 81 of 2012 focuses on the management domestic waste and domestic waste equivalents. It includes both policy and a strategy for its implementation as well as enforcement of the Solid Waste Management Act (No.18/2008), but does not mention plastics explicitly. The regulation states that all individuals are obliged to reduce and manage their waste through reduction, recycling, and reuse (3Rs). Producers are also required to limit and recycle their production waste by establishing relevant program or plan, producing products with easily degradable packaging, and collecting product packages for recycling.

MoEF decree No.13/2012 on Guidelines for implementation of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle through Waste Bank

The Ministry of Environment Regulation No. 13 of 2012 defines the Waste Bank and states the requirements, mechanism, implementation, and implementation of the Waste Bank, which is the main government tool to increase recycling of household and similar waste. The Waste Bank allows residents to be paid a pre-set amount for selected valuable waste types through local reception stations. Current estimates suggest that the Waste Banks in Indonesia handles about 1-2% of the recyclable waste, a relatively smaller number compared to the 10-15% of recyclable waste handled by the informal sector who makes living of valuable recyclables (Ministry of Environment of Denmark, 2017). These informal collectors are playing an important role in Indonesia’s waste management economy (WEF, 2021), and thus have been supported by many businesses and NGOs to improve their livelihoods and digital literacy, and to better contribute to the National Plastic Action Partnership (NPAP) Multistakeholder Action Plan goal of doubling Indonesia’s waste collection and recycling capacity (WEF, 2021). There is also increasing demand for government support to grant the informal waste collectors legal status and recognition (China Dialogue, 2021).

Presidential Decree No.97/2017 on National Policy & Strategy on Management of Household Waste and Household-like Waste (JAKSTRANAS)

President Regulation No. 97/2017 is a roadmap towards the 2025 Clean-from-Waste Indonesia (Indonesia Bersih Sampah 2025). It sets the target of 30% waste reduction and 70% waste handling by 2025. Indicators for waste reduction include decreasing waste generation per capita, reducing waste at source (e.g.: plastic bag restriction), and reducing waste leakage to the environment. For the “70% handling” target mentioned above, the indicators include increasing waste to be treated (recycling, composting, biogas, thermal recovery, etc.) and reducing waste to be landfilled (MoEF, 2020). Through these targets, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry aims to reduce 70% marine plastic by 2025.

Figure 3. National Targets on Solid Waste Reduction (JAKSTRANAS, 2017)

Figure 3. National Targets on Solid Waste Reduction (JAKSTRANAS, 2017)


Figure 4. National Policy and Strategy on Solid Waste Reduction (JAKSTRANAS, 2017)

Figure 4. National Policy and Strategy on Solid Waste Reduction (JAKSTRANAS, 2017)


Presidential Regulation No. 83/2018 on Marine Debris Management (National Plan of Action on Marine Plastic Debris)

In Presidential Regulation No.83/2018, Indonesia declared a National Plan of Action to combat marine debris from 2018 to 2025. The Regulation involves 16 ministries, local governments, private sectors, and NGOs with a planned budget of US$1 billion (KKP, 2018). The 2018-2025 action plan pledges to reduce plastic and other marine waste by 70% by 2025, which is strongly linked to overall 100% urban collection targets on land. There is a total of 58 actions to combat marine debris, including raising stakeholder awareness, managing waste generated on land, managing coastal and ocean waste, strengthening monitoring and law enforcement, and research and development, etc. (ERIA, 2019).

Figure 5. Number of activities by ministry under 2018-2025 Indonesian Action Plan (Kojima et al., 2019)

Figure 5. Number of activities by ministry under 2018-2025 Indonesian Action Plan (Kojima et al., 2019)

MoEF decree No. P.75/2019 on Roadmap to Waste Reduction by Producers

The regulation No. P.75/2019 on EPR is designed to guide and facilitate the producers (brand owners, manufacturers, importers, retailers, and the food and beverage service industry, etc.) to implement their EPR on reducing the waste generated from their goods, packaging, and services in plastics, paper, aluminum cans, and glass (MoEF, 2020). The regulation contains three components (direct translation from IGES, 2O21):


  1. To prevent and limit the potential of waste generation as much as possible by implementing design for sustainability in the form of re-designed products and packaging, by phasing out single-use plastics, eliminating unnecessary and excessive packaging, making packaging more recyclable and reusable, creating packaging out of more recycled content, and producing more durable, returnable, rechargeable, and refillable goods;
  2. To take back post-consumer products and packaging for reuse; and
  3. To take back post-consumer products and packaging for recycling.

Examples of specific measures involving plastic waste management include:

  1. Charge for single-use plastic products (e.g. shopping bags, straws);
  2. Collection of scattered waste on beach;
  3. Policy actions for encouraging plastic alternatives (e.g. biodegradable plastics, circular product design – including use of recycled materials or closed loop recycling and so on’);
  4. Actions for encouraging monitoring / scientific research on plastic flows and ocean surface microplastics. 

Regulations and programs at local level

To enhance solid waste management, many programs and regulations have also been introduced at local level. Efforts to achieve this goal include discouraging the use of plastic bags by applying additional charges, encouraging more source separation and promoting circular economy through waste sorting management (Gerakan Pilah Sampah in 2019 by MoEF), implementing recyclables collection model (e.g.: PET bottle, cartons, etc.), and carrying out ocean plastic waste observation (MoEF, 2021).

At the local level, examples of regulations and programs include Regent Regulation No.13/2019 concerning Plastic Styrofoam Usage Reduction issued by Bogor. The ADIPURA Program (a clean city program) has also been implemented as an incentive for any municipality that excels in environmental management and city cleanliness (MoEF, 2020). Figure 6 below shows a summary of the implementation of national waste management programs at local level.

Figure 6. National waste management programs at local level (SWI analysis, 2019)

Figure 6. National waste management programs at local level (SWI analysis, 2019)

Policy Effectiveness

Governed by the Solid Waste Management Act (No. 18/2008) as a basic law, current waste management in Indonesia mainly focuses on the 3Rs paradigm. To implement this paradigm, the central and regional governments in the country are given the authority to establish waste management policies and strategies (Hasan, 2021). However, despite the introduction of various solid waste management policies and regulations over the years in Indonesia, the enforcements need to be significantly strengthened (World Bank, 2018). According to a World Bank report in 2018, currently there is virtually no or minimum enforcement of solid waste laws and standards from city-level violations to individual polluters (World Bank, 2018). Multiple studies have pointed out that the root cause to be the “absence of effective method for managing plastic waste” (Hidayat, 2019). For example, as one of the No.18/2008 effort, Indonesian government applied a plastic bag levy policy in 23 regions in 2016. It requires supermarket customers to pay Rp 200 (about US$ 0.015) per piece of plastic used, including Value Added Tax (PPN). The money collected will be managed by the retail stores as CSR (Sobaya et al., 2018). However, the policy was revoked in less than eight months due to the country’s “weak legal basis” (Hasan, 2021). Moreover, recycling remains an informal sector activity with the informal waste collectors not regulated and their welfare not guaranteed, and formal recycling systems capturing less than 5% of the waste generated in the country. As mentioned, if the informal sector can be properly recognized and well compensated, they can largely contribute to the waste collection, recycling capacity and the overall policy execution.



Yifan Wang, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Rachel Karasik, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

John Virdin, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions


Thanks go to the UNDP Ocean Innovation Challenge for their generous support of this work.



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