This week marked the fourth annual World Ocean Summit, held in Bali, Indonesia. The location of the summit is fitting as the archipelago nation is the world’s second largest polluter of plastic and its oceans are in extreme risk. Many people do not realize that marine wildlife supports human and non-marine ecosystems. The environment is interconnected and governments, businesses, and consumers each play a unique role in helping to preserve waterways for the health and wellbeing of people and nature.
Indonesia once relied on banana leaves for packaging of goods and consumables. A few decades ago, the plastic revolution created tons of non-organic materials in a place that has ever known organic waste. Making Oceans Plastic Free (MOPF) is examining why Indonesia became one of the worst plastic polluters and most importantly, how to tackle the problem. MOPF uses PhD research that investigates the complexities of combating plastic pollution in Indonesia without having to rely on governmental interventions.
The research explores how and why plastic use and litter started, what motivates people and businesses to use reusable bags, which groups’ input creates the most impact, and identifies the most effective solutions.
In alignment with the World Ocean Summits mission to discover how capital and the private sector can drive a “blue-economy”, MOPF will use the results from 4 years of testing and study to launch a new campaign to help tackle plastic bag pollution in Indonesia.
- Distributing free reusable bags did not reduce plastic bag use, while schemes that involved subsidized pricing for reusable bags significantly reduced plastic bag use
- Messages to reduce environmental impact that were endorsed by traditional religious leaders were more effective at reducing plastic bag use than messages delivered by commercial brands or NGOs
- Endorsement of pro environmental behavior by village leaders was more effective than referring to financial benefits for shop owners to help reduce plastic bag distribution
During the summit MOPF met with Isabel and Melati of Bye Bye Plastic Bags, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment, Erik Solheim and actor Adrian Grenier, Founder of the Lonely Whale Foundation. This power group of environmental protectors took a stroll on the Bali beach and discussed the research supporting MOPF, and the role of Eco Bali as a model social enterprise for ensuring recycling of waste products. MOPF helped illustrate the Bali pollution problem by using waste found on the beach to create a pie chart representative of the different types of trash plaguing the island.
With the help of key players in the environmental community, MOPFs new enterprise combines educational, cultural and technical features in a unique way to break the plastic bag habit.
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Author: Kara Jordan