A big plas­tic clean-up in PNG

Paradise - - In Paradise | Contents -

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.

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