Continuing the war on plastic bags

Editorial

THIS year’s World Environment Day theme of ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ is in line with the Government move to protect our fish and the marine life.
The Government in April imposed a blanket ban on the manufacture and import of plastic shopping bags.
The plastic packaging and bottling companies have been given 18 months to find a workable solution and partner with the Government in its campaign.
Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper reported that plastic pollution has become a hot topic in recent months, with New York City seriously considering banning plastic straws. Other American cities like Davis and San Luis Obispo, California and Miami Beach and Fort Myers have successfully banned them.
Outside of the United States, Vancouver, also took action recently to ban plastic straws while Prime Minister Theresa May announced a new plan on April 19 to phase out plastic straws and other single-use plastic material in the United Kingdom, something being seriously considered by a number of other Commonwealth nations.
We can all play a part in a better future for our planet.
This already is a global fight and the stand taken by the Government must be supported.
For shoppers, plastic bags is convenient – it is cheap, strong and easy to carry.
Once at home, it is reused for marketing, packing and most becoming garbage bags at home.
Whatever its usage is, the plastic bags do not just disappear when you toss them away.
Plastic bags are everywhere, at the bus stops, along the roads and fences often abandoned and at the mercy of the wind.
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.
Thanks to the determined efforts by environmentally minded advocates and politicians, PNG is poised to join the growing roster of places that have taken on the ban of plastic shopping bags.
Environment, Conservation and Climate Change Minister John Pundari is right in saying that taking a step in the right direction is one thing, do not step back and if we all take a step forward we will all make a difference and create a greater planet for us all to dwell in and be happy.
The appeal to all when out shopping to take along a bilum instead of plastic, is going to be a challenge.
The shoppers must now start using string bilum (woven bags) or the eco bags which are already being sold in major supermarkets.
The authorities now have to raise awareness about the ban and at the same time ask businesses not to take the bilum and baskets off shoppers, especially womenfolks, at the door for security reasons.
However, no individual action will solve the plastic marine litter crisis, but the swift implementation of these policies can have a huge positive effect in reducing a critical environmental problem.
Shops may start using paper bags to pack shopping.
The bill’s reasoning, and its sensible exemptions, are on target.
And its goal – coastlines less blighted by abandoned plastics – cannot be nobler.
It will not be easy as we say, but over time, we hope Papua New Guineans will develop the culture of respect, responsibility and appreciation of our environment and value it.

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