A big plastic clean-up in PNG
The marine conservation, protection and development organisation Help PNG has started a campaign to clean up plastic waste in Papua New Guinea. The organisation’s chief executive officer, Frank Butler, says the threeyear ‘Ban the Bag’ initiative will aim to reduce waste by eventually outlawing single-use plastic (SUP) bags.
By the beginning of 2021, he is hoping there will be legislation in place to make it impossible for SUP bags to be brought into the country.
At least 15 countries in Africa, including Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, already ban SUP bags, while in Asia there are restrictions in several countries, including China, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Butler says the campaign will also target bottles, straws, cups, knives and plates – any SUP item that can be replaced by a more environmentally friendly alternative. As part of the project, women’s groups are being established to make reusable cotton bags. A community education program has also been started and includes one-on-one engagement with store owners and supermarket staff.
Butler says another aim of the project is to establish a 20 toea charge for plastic bags at the main supermarkets around the country to discourage use of SUP bags.
“Because of the extended time frame (of the project), the easy gradual transition, and the public awareness, we anticipate that the change (away from plastics) will be widely supported.”
He says the mention of plastic waste never fails to elicit a strong response, “with a huge majority of people saying it is a tragedy”.
The project is being rolled out in Port Moresby and will gradually be expanded to regional areas.