Beat plastic pollution for World Environment Day

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Rubbish collect at Mataniko river mouth (Photo by SPREP)
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BY GEORGINA KEKEA

BEAT Plastic Pollution”, the theme for World Environment Day (WED) 2018, is a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time.

As countries plan their events for this year’s WED, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) hopes people do not have to wait till June 5 to act.

“This year’s WED provides an opportunity for each of us to embrace the many ways that we can help to combat plastic pollution around the world.”

In Solomon Islands, Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has said that there are small ways to demonstrate participation, commitment and contribution towards tackling the problem of plastic rubbish, environmental and marine waste and pollution. Sogavare made these remarks during a beach cleanup last month to commemorate Commonwealth day.

Meanwhile Friends of the City (FTC) a new Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) established to discuss issues surrounding the city says education is the key to tackle plastic pollution.

“Correct disposal of rubbish starts from the home thus our children must be educated at an early age on how to dispose rubbish correctly.”

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While plastic has many valuable uses, studies show that we have become over reliant on single-use or disposable plastic – with severe environmental consequences. UNEP reports that around the world, 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute.

“500 billion disposable plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, 50 percent of the plastic we use is single use.”

Nearly one third of the plastic packaging we use escapes collection systems, which means that it ends up clogging our city streets and polluting our natural environment. Every year, up to 13 million tons of plastic leak into our oceans, where it smothers coral reefs and threatens vulnerable marine wildlife. The plastic that ends up in the oceans can circle the Earth four times in a single year, and it can persist for up to 1,000 years before it fully disintegrates.

The issue of plastic waste is a serious one and should not be taken lightly. Recently Premier Maepioh of Western province had been commended for his government’s initiative to ban plastic in the Western Solomon Islands.

Now the country’s Prime Minister is considering the ban of plastics after the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) where tackling plastic waste is an outcome of the meeting.

The government of UK announced £61 million to tackle plastic waste, including matching public donations through UK Aid Match up to £5 million.

UNEP on the other hand says if you can’t reuse it, refuse it.

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