Indonesia eyes taxes on plastic bags, sweet drinks and cars 

Indonesia’s Finance Minister Mulyani Indrawati has submitted a proposal to parliament to impose environmental tariffs. She said the authorities were targeting sugar-filled and artificially sweetened drinks and polluting conventional vehicles. 

Indrawati also asked MPs to reconsider her proposal to impose duties on plastic bags to cut plastic waste, which she suggested in 2017.  The levy could halve Indonesia’s use of plastic bags to 53,500 tonnes per year, she estimated. 

With one of the world’s longest coastlines and its fourth-highest population, Indonesia is the second-largest marine plastic polluter after China.

The WWF recently reported that approximately 60 per cent of the estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic that enter the oceans comes from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Coffee giant Starbucks Indonesia says it will start offering paper straws across the country this month.

The attempt to stop using plastic straws started on Bali in late 2018 and has been expanding across the archipelago. 

It is hoped that the initiative will cut annual plastic straw consumption by more than 30 million when imposed nationally. 

“As part of the community, we strive to support the government’s programmes and movements, including the current effort to reduce plastic waste in Indonesia,” said Anthony Cottan of the Starbucks Indonesian franchise holder, Sari Coffee Indonesia.

Starbucks Indonesia has also launched initiatives to cut single-use cup use, encouraging users to bring their own receptacles. 

Indonesia reported weak tax collection after the economy grew by its slowest pace in three years during 2019. The authorities in Jakarta reported a US$15-billion revenue shortfall in 2019 due to disappointing company profits and falling exports.

The finance minister wants to introduce excise taxes of between 1,500 rupiah and 2,500 rupiah (11-18 US cents) per litre on sweet drinks, including prepackaged tea, coffee, fizzy pop and energy drinks, she told the parliamentary finance commission.

Indonesia was looking to cut consumption of sweetened drinks, Indrawati said, saying diabetes and obesity had increased over the last 10 years. 

Approximately 2 per cent of Indonesians older than 15 were reported to be suffering from diabetes in 2018, up from 1.1 per cent in 2007. Adult obesity rose from 10.5 per cent in 2007 to 21.8 per cent in 2018.



Jakarta’s rivers are almost invisible in parts due to the quantity of plastic waste. Picture credit: Wikimedia