Pulau Plastik Highlights Dangers of Indonesia’s Plastic Waste

Around 1.3 million tons of Indonesia’s plastic waste reaches the oceans annually, polluting some the most biodiverse areas in the world. Bali contributes approximately 110,000 tons to this equation, with single-use plastic packaging being one of the main causes of this growing problem. Pulau Plastik (Plastic Island) harnesses the power of popular culture to motivate Indonesians to give single-use plastic the flick. In the works since 2018, the initiative uses film and public service announcements as campaign tools to improve community understanding of the negative impact of plastic pollution. It also encourages Indonesians to partake and advocate for solutions to the problem.

One of the main parts of the campaign is a four-part series entitled Pulau Plastik, which has now been screened in more than 60 communities across Bali, Lombok, Java, Sulawesi, Sumatra and Papua. The series, which uses art and music as agents of change, is hosted by Gede Robi, the frontman of the Bali-based band Navicula. “We have produced and launched our pilot episode in February this year. We have also completed the other episodes in August,” says Sergina Loncle, Associate Director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives at Kopernik, who manages the day-to-day implementation activities, deliverables, budget and donor reports of Pulau Plastik. “While we have already started screening these new episodes at community events in September, we are also planning to hold an official launch and screening at the Badung Market on the sixth of December.” 

Building on the Balinese philosophy of Tri Hita Karana (or the harmony between humans, god and nature), the 20-minute episodes highlight a number of issues that relate to single-use plastics. The first episode, entitled “In Harmony with Our Oceans,” looks at how microplastics make their way into our food through the seafood we consume. Episode two, “The Consequences of Our Actions,” talks about the importance of separating waste both at home and at the village level. The episode entitles “The Turtle that Carried the World” explores how a single piece of discarded plastic can kill a turtle and proposes alternatives to single-use plastic packaging. This episode also takes restaurant owners into the world of the first zero waste restaurant in Indonesia to explore plastic-free business alternatives. The final episode, “The Relation Between Humans, God and Nature,” follows Balinese youth as they tackle pollution at the Besakih temple.

The main target audience of the Pulau Plastik campaign are Balinese and Indonesians between the ages of 15 and 50 who are active followers of popular culture. As such, Sergina believes that popular culture is an excellent medium to reach this demographic. “Gede Robi co-created Pulau Plastik with Ewa Wojkowska, the Co-Founder and COO of Kopernik. As the frontman of an award-winning Indonesian rock band who spreads social messages, and with whom Kopernik has previously worked on a number of projects, Robi makes an ideal host for Pulau Plastik. Having already been the host of a popular Metro TV Series called Viva Barista, Robi has brought his media experience to the campaign. He is also one of Bali’s leading environmental activists.” 

Pulau Plastik has also produced three public service announcements (PSAs) to motivate Indonesians to take action against plastic pollution. “These PSAs feature Balinese musicians and influencers, as well as Balinese cultural references. They talk about the issue of plastic waste in a light and humorous tone to encourage people to share or repost them,” Sergina says. Pulau Plastik is also working on a feature-length documentary, which is currently at the post-production stage and is scheduled for release in mid-2020. Also hosted by Gede Robi, the film looks how plastic waste ends up in Bali’s landfills, the sea and eventually our food.

To help individuals and business owners to move away from single-use packaging, Pulau Plastik has compiled a list of vendors that stock eco-friendly products, which can be found on the organization’s website. The list contains suppliers of reusable bags, disposable straws, beeswax food wraps and bamboo cutlery. Those interested in the products are encouraged to contact the vendors directly and get onboard the zero-waste ride.

Thus far, the community response to the campaign has been very positive. While most of those who have attended one of Pulau Plastik’s screenings were already aware of the issue of plastic waste in Indonesia, the message in the films has strengthened both their awareness of the problem and motivation to do something about it. “We have witnessed high engagement and positive responses from our audiences,” says Sergina. “They are really interested in the issue of plastic pollution, and have said that the delivery of information and solutions in the Pulau Plastik series is simple and applicable to their daily lives.”

For more information about the Pulau Plastik campaign visit pulauplastik.org/en.

For regular updates, pleaser follow @pulauyplastik on Instagram.

By Anita

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