PNG needs to get tough on plastic pollution

Editorial

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 most become garbage bags at home.
Whatever its usage , 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.
The shoppers must now start using the eco bags which are already being sold in major supermarkets or clear string bilums (woven bags).
The appeal to all when out shopping to take along a bilum instead of plastic, is going to be a challenge.
Concerned authorities now have the challenge of raising awareness on this ban at the same time, asking businesses not to take string bilums and baskets off shoppers, especially the womenfolk who will them to pack their shopping. Shops may start using paper bags to pack shoppers.
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.
According to a recent Sprep (Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme) report, PNG recorded 90,000 tons of mismanaged plastic in 2010 and by 2050, it projected that plastic pollution in PNG will have more than tripled to 320,000 tons.
This is truly an alarming rate and it is time we move to stop the rapid rise in plastic pollution.
The ban’s reasoning, and its sensible exemptions, are on target. And its goal — coastlines less blighted by rustling blossoms of abandoned plastic — could not be nobler.
The government had taken right steps forward in the right direction to ban the use of all plastic shopping bags in PNG by November this year and reiterated the need for plastics to be reduced, reused or recycled.
The task would be challenging, but PNG as a country that depended so much on its environment, must take some serious actions and start somewhere to address the alarming rate of plastic pollution.
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.
Shoppers use 500 billion single-use plastic bags worldwide every year. These bags typically end up in landfills or the ocean. More than 100,000 marine mammals get entangled in plastic bags and die annually. Other cities and companies have also banned single-use plastic straws.
Bangladesh was the first country to ban plastic bags in 2002. Plastic straw bans are going into effect around the US. California recently became the first state to nix plastic straws from restaurant tables.
Starting this year, customers in that state have been asked if they want a straw. Last July, Seattle became the first major US city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils.
This already is a global fight and the stand taken by the Government must be supported.

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