Vanuatu bans plastic bags and polystyrene takeaway boxes
A ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags and polystyrene takeaway boxes is to come into force in Vanuatu at the end of this month.
The Council of Ministers agreed to stop single-use bags being imported and manufactured in the country after a study highlighted a large amount of plastic rubbish on the main island of Efate.
The Head of Maritime and Ocean Affairs in Vanuatu Toney Tevi told Sela Jane Hopgood about how the National Ocean's Policy triggered the ban.
TONEY TEVI - Vanuatu government put in place an ocean's policy last year. We felt that we weren't managing our oceans as we should be given the challenges that its faced so far in the ocean in terms of resources and also the fact that there's a lot of rubbish in the sea now, when by then we were only having heard people saying, 'oh we saw so many plastics here, so many plastics there', but there wasn't anybody who did a very good study, but then we had a local environmental group did something with the environment on collecting plastics in the sea on a particular area and when the report came out, that was it and it's about time we start looking at addressing this issue, so immediately when the report came out, we got into action and started doing all the necessary work to get it done. It came out from various statements by our prime minister last year that he wanted to ban plastics. I think the challenge here was what sort of plastics do we really want to do that first and then others later maybe, so which one are the more pressing one, so that report sort of help us identify which are the most plastic found in the sea. The bottle has been part of that, that we felt like we need to do more consultations and work on that before we get to that stage.
SJH - The announcement to ban those two items by the end of the month was in the beginning of January. Is that enough time by the end of January to roll out this plan?
TT - Yes, in terms of the two items mentioned, we've held direct consultation with the distributors, those that are who given license to import those plastic bags and main big retail shops that actually sell distributes plastic. We told them exactly that it's just them helping with the situation of controlling plastic getting into the sea. They were really helpful. They said that will be a very good thing and some of them actually started well two or three months ago to stop for going plastics in the shops and takeaway boxes, we had the South Pacific Mini Games here and within the compound where they were selling all the foods, if you had to go to those shops to buy any food, they'll give it to you in a takeaway box, which is not polystyrene, that it's cardboard. The change is already there. It's not like for the two items 'okay we need to do something right'. They knew something was coming and they were also preparing for that.
SJH - What are the future plans following this ban?
TT - Yes, there's also a waste management act, which we have the council, the cabinet also requested to have regulation under the waste management act to specifically deal manage plastic, so that is going to come up by the end of this month, so by end of this month we will also have a regulation in place, which will tell us how and when and go about managing certain plastics within the country. We're not going to do anything that might want to hurt somebody in such a way that it's going to be bad for him and his business, but we want to do it in such a way that they too understand that plastic should not get into the sea.
Please follow the source link to listen to the transcript: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/2018628994/vanuatu-bans-plastic-bags-and-polystyrene-takeaway-boxes