Bali declares ‘garbage emergency’ as trash piles up on beaches

Piles of trash litter Bali’s Kuta beach. Reuters picture, via Twitter

Bali has declared a ‘garbage emergency’ as it battles mountains of trash that appear daily on its world-renowned beaches.

Often named as one of the world’s top tourist destinations, the Indonesian island has beed described as an “embarrassing poster child” for the country’s trash problem.


The archipelago of more than 17,000 islands is the world’s second biggest contributor to marine debris after China, adding 1.29 million metric tons of trash per year. In third place is the Philippines, which contributes .75 million metric tons.

The problem has grown so bad that officials in Bali have declared a ‘garbage emergency’ across a stretch of coast that includes Jimbaran, Kuta and Seminyak beaches.

Officials have deployed 700 cleaners and 35 trucks to remove about 100 tons of debris each and every day.


“People with green uniforms were collecting the garbage to move it away but the next day I saw the same situation,” German tourist Claus Dignas told AFP. “No one wants to sit on nice beach chairs and facing all this rubbish.”

Bali’s rubbish problem is at its worst during the monsoon season, when strong winds push flotsam onto the beach and swollen rivers wash rubbish from inland areas into the sea.

Indonesia is one of about 40 countries that have signed up to the UN’s Clean Seas campaign, which aims to halt the tide of plastic polluting the oceans.

As part of its commitment, the government has until 2025 to reduce marine plastic waste by 70 per cent. It plans to boost recycling services, curb the use of plastic bags, launch cleanup campaigns and raise public awareness.

The Philippines, another signatory to the campaign, is planning to introduce new laws to limit single-use plastics. At grassroots level, a ‘plastic craft‘ movement is growing in the country, in which skilled artisans use discarded materials to create colourful bags and clothing.