This year’s Mother Earth day was celebrated on April 23, with the theme ‘End Plastic Pollution’. This global theme is a challenge for each of us to take stock of our actions especially, where and how we dispose our rubbish, as it affects the earth we live in, in a big way. Plastic is a common household item used in many homes in Papua New Guinea and is not properly disposed leading to clogged drains, polluted river systems and dirty streets and market places. Plastic we dispose on land ends up in the ocean, affecting marine biodiversity and making our oceans dirty. Some plastic waste is also washed back onto the shorelines, littering beautiful beaches and shorelines in PNG.
In 2014, PNG Government, through CEPA announced a ban on the import, manufacture and use of non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags. This however, has not improved the issue of plastic littering and the damage plastic is causing on the environment (The National, 2018).
In January 2017, UN Environment launched ‘The Clean Seas’ campaign with an aim to increase global awareness of the need to reduce marine litter. This was after realizing that many of the plastics we use ultimately ends up in the ocean, posing serious threat to marine ecosystem (UNEP, 2017).
On 17th April this year, again the PNG Government through CEPA announced a ban on the use and manufacture of both biodegradable and non-biodegradable plastic bags in the country with a hefty levy to be imposed on businesses that continue to import and manufacture plastic shopping bags. Honorable John Pundari, Minister for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change said this is in the interest of protecting our health and unique environment (Post Courier, 2018).
CELCOR has had the opportunity of working with communities throughout PNG, both in the Highlands and Coastal regions and realize that the issue of plastic littering is real and is destroying the environment. Dozens of plastics are washed onto the shores in places like Daru Island where they are mixed with the murky sand, making it unpleasant to get off boats when you reach the shore. Port Moresby itself, is an eyesore when you pass through places like Erima, Gordons market, Manu market, Hanuabada village, Port Moresby Yatch Club, and Waigani market.
As an organization that is interested in making sure that people live in harmony with the environment and culture in a just, holistic and sustainable way, CELCOR believes plastic disposed in the wrong places is destroying the natural ecosystem and biodiversity, both on the land and sea.
CELCOR therefore, supports the call by Minister for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change, Honorable John Pundari, that non-biodegradable plastics should be banned as they last a long time on the environment and pollutes biodiversity both on land and sea. Plastics must be completely banned while at the same time, establish hefty penalties for those companies that still use plastics.
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