Vanuatu to ban plastics use to save oceans

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Vanuatu's government started implementing a ban on single-use plastic bags being imported and manufactured in the country at the end of January this year.

At the recent Commonwealth Heads of State conference held in London, Vanuatu committed to lead the fight in the Commonwealth against plastic pollution in the oceans. And in order to increase awareness of the impacts of plastic and the details of the ban, the government, through the Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade will be hosting a workshop this week.

The Vanuatu government has signed orders limiting the use of plastic and regulating waste throughout its 82 islands. The orders addressed the control of single-use plastic bags, plastic straws and polystyrene takeaway boxes, littering and the licensing of private waste operators. This means that from July 1, it would be an offence to manufacture, sell or give away single-use plastic bags, plastic drinking straws and polystyrene boxes in Vanuatu.

Companies and retailers were given a period of six months to use up their current stock of single-use plastic bags and polystyrene takeaway boxes.

The workshop, which will host representatives from across the Vanuatu society, will be facilitated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, and aims to develop a strategy and campaign to educating and modify behaviours of the people towards plastics.

Plastics are damaging food security, destroying the environment and impacting health. All of these affect their economy and reduce their resilience to global environmental, social and economic changes.

The Vanuatu government has also been consulting with private waste operators who now have to be licensed to operate any landfill, recycling center, waste treatment plant, composting plant or incinerator.

The only exception would be the use of plastic to wrap and carry fish or meat.

According to Vanuatu's Daily Post on Monday, the Vanuatu government is taking proactive steps in reducing the impacts of single-use plastics through a ban on single-use plastic bags, drinking straws and polystyrene food containers. This ban will come into effect on July 1, 2018.

SUVA, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Vanuatu will ban the use of plastics in July this year as plastic pollution is an increasing problem globally and the Pacific is increasingly witnessing these impacts.

On February 1 this year, new laws on littering took effect, with fines of 45 U.S. dollars for a first offence or 90 U.S. dollars for subsequent dumping of rubbish in public.

Vanuatu's Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation said earlier that it wanted to inform the public about the changes and is working with partners to develop awareness about the moves.