Indonesia’s processed food and beverage industry, a recently upward-trending sector of the economy, may be in danger due to a suggested excise tax. The measure, proposed by the Indonesian government earlier this year, would add a minuscule amount, approximately equal to $0.02 in US dollars, to foods and beverages wrapped in plastic. Environmentalists the world over have long pushed for leaders in the food industry to enforce measures to reduce their environmental harm, and this new tax may give these leaders an opportunity to adjust manufacturing processes.
Indonesia as a whole is frequently credited with its potential for great economic success. Many economists became optimistic upon observing the recent trends in the food industry.While this suggested tax would greatly reduce the harmful environmental effects of plastic waste in the air, it would in turn also harm the now booming Indonesian food and beverage industry.
If this tax were to be approved, factories that use plastic packages to wrap their food would experience a decrease in the demand for their products. Many customers would be less interested in the products, noting, for example, that many Indonesians rely on plastic water bottles for every day use. Two other economic sectors would be affected as well–packaging and petrochemicals.
But is environmental health a fair sacrifice for convenience? If measures like this small excise tax are not taken to reduce waste in the food industry now, will similar measures be pushed aside in the future? If so, when will we begin to address the serious threats our planet is facing, and will it be too late?
This debate between environmental and economic well-being is one that is both old and on-going, and stirs up debates between government officials, economists, and environmental specialists around the world. While Indonesia’s economy grows, the nation still remains the world’s second largest producer of plastic waste. Support of this tax will certainly help to reduce the amount of environmental harm done by the food industry in Indonesia, and may in turn encourage other countries to enact similar measures.
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