Ban on plastic bags starts today

Editorial

STARTING today, the nationwide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags comes into effect.
The Government in 2014 banned the import and manufacture of non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags.
It allowed only the manufacture and import of biodegradable plastic shopping bags.
Things had not moved along as expected.
The Government then imposed a levy on the manufacture and import of plastic bags to discourage it being used.
For all shoppers, plastic bags are the most convenient mode to take their shopping away – it is cheap, strong and easy to carry.
Once at home, it is reused for marketing, packing and for disposing rubbish.
Whatever it’s used for, plastic bags do not just disappear when you toss them away.
They are everywhere – at bus stops, along the road side or on the roads, in drains and waterways, and on fences – often abandoned and at the mercy of the wind.
And there the bags take on a new role – a polluting nuisance.
Plastic is lasting in modern society but that is no reason not to try to limit the wastefulness and blight from its overuse.
And that has been a concern over the past years prompting the body responsible for protecting the environment – Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (Cepa) to lead a campaign against the use of plastic bags.
Plastic bags, bottles, condoms as well as human and animal effluent have created environmental pollution as well as a health and hygiene nightmare for both humans and animals.
Humans, being responsible for it perhaps deserve the pollution, but it is a pity that fish and other marine life should not be suffocated in plastic waste.
This is becoming a nightmare for authorities in coastal towns.
We have reported about rubbish overload along waterways, rubbish heaps in the middle of townships and the list goes on.
Take a look around, plastic bags are everywhere, at bus stops, roads, fences, drains, playgrounds, parks etc.
And there the bags begin a new, practically eternal afterlife as a polluting nuisance.
In a country where the bilum and coconut baskets are works of art, it is a pity that the country is literally awash with plastic bags.
Rubbish is a by-product of human activity.
Some 20 million tons of plastic pollution enters the oceans each year, and it’s devastating the marine environment.
Plastic litter is also costly.
Some will say plastic shopping bags are a very, very tiny proportion of the plastics going into landfill or banning plastic bags is not necessarily always the best environmental outcome.
However, no individual action will solve the plastic marine litter crisis, but swift implementation of these policies could have a huge positive effect in reducing a critical environmental problem.
Shoppers should now start using clear string bilums (woven bags) or the eco bags which are already being sold in major supermarkets.
Some shops have been using paper bags to pack items. The task would be challenging, but PNG as a country that depended so much on its environment, should take some serious actions and start somewhere to address the alarming rate of plastic pollution.
Concerned authorities now have the challenge of ensuring everyone complies with the ban at the same time, asking businesses not to take string bilums and baskets off shoppers, especially the womenfolk who will need them to pack their shopping.
It will not be easy as we say, but overtime, we hope Papua New Guineans develop the culture of respect, responsibility and appreciation of the environment and value it.

2 comments

  • Its a good news for protecting the environments being polluted by used plastics but, how about those food packets made of plastic, like biscuit packets, noodle packets, 500ml cokes plastic bottles, cooking oil plastic bottles, ect. Are they all too be banned as those are also made of plastics?

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