New Zealand signals a lead for the Solomon Islands to follow on plastic waste

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DEAR EDITOR, “Winston Peters, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister this week signalled that the New Zealand government will invest more time and resources in the economic survival and security of the Pacific.

“Mr Peters said that New Zealand’s own future prosperity and security were closely linked to the Pacific.

“He stressed that the government would invest more time and resources in being a “true partner” to Pacific Islands countries, which entailed working with them as equals.

“Working to protect the islands’ social, economic and environmental wellbeing did not always mean expensive programmes, he explained. And in some cases, it also required global efforts, such as the goal of curbing inundation of plastic waste in the Pacific.

“New Zealand’s government recently joined the UN-led CleanSeas campaign which aims to rid the seas of plastic waste.

“Mr Peters said it was important to reduce the amount of damaging waste in the Pacific arising from New Zealand’s use of plastic.

“Mr Peters said the lack of adequate waste management systems was sorely evident throughout the Pacific. He explained that New Zealand was looking to assist Pacific Island countries with better waste management systems.

“We could use best practice, best knowledge, best industrial advances to help these populations out,” he said.” (Source – Radio New Zealand International 2018)

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In the Solomon Islands the problem associated with the proper disposal of plastic waste is very evident and I will illustrate the situation with a single photo taken recently in Honiara which, at a glance, shows the shocking state of a local stream.

I recall the time when there was a severe water shortage in the Reef Islands when, in response to the then crisis, Australia, through AusAid sent 133,000 plastic bottles of water as emergency aid.

The Reef Islands had no means of dealing with the huge amount of plastic waste that occurred and I thought it would have been a much better solution to have contributed robust 20 litre water containers that might still be in use today.

The concept of dealing with disaster relief, however well meaning by supplying plastic water bottles, is defeating and supplying items, such as the water containers I have mentioned, could have helped build resilience.

I welcome the news from the New Zealand’s Foreign Minister that New Zealand will help its Pacific neighbours with better waste management systems and hope Solomon Islands will soon become a beneficiary.

The proper disposal of waste is everyone’s responsibility, however, and unfortunately, as the photograph I have included with this story clearly illustrates, people are far too careless in their habits and neglectful of their civic duty in keeping their island home clean and free of rubbish, including plastic waste.

Yours sincerely

FRANK SHORT

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