First Lady offers solution to plastic bag use

THE banning of single use plastic needs to be addressed in a holistic way that includes the best traditional practices to replace plastic bags, says Vanuatu’s First Lady.

Estella Moses calls for a return to traditional ways to help the environment.
Estella Moses calls for a return to traditional ways to help the environment.

The wife of the President, Estella Moses, said before the advent of plastic bags the people of Vanuatu used traditional woven baskets in their daily life and it never had an effect on the environment.

“The use of plastic bags from shops to homes mostly last for only 15 minutes then we throw them away,’’ she said.

“As the first lady I would like to ask everyone in Vanuatu, especially the women, that we need to teach our children to continue to produce traditional baskets, so when we start using our traditional baskets we will start to clean our ocean and revive our custom and culture.”

The Internal Affairs Minister Alfred Maou who was also at the opening of the plastics workshop, said the key to successfully implementing the legislation of a single-use plastics ban remains in educating people to help address the issue.

“Poor waste management and inadequate control over highly polluting activities poses risks to the overall economic base of most Pacific island countries and territories,” he said.

“The Vanuatu policy, such as the Waste Management Act 2014, Vanuatu National Oceanic Policy, Vanuatu National Waste Management Pollution control strategy and Implementation Plan 2016-2020, have already paved a way to begin implementing these initiatives to address waste pollution.

“I believe that this two-day workshop will help in preparing a very useful awareness and a strategic tool which we will use to better equip ourselves and our people to be part of the implementation.”

Participants listen to a presentation at the workshop.
Participants listen to a presentation at the workshop.

The workshop, held at the Melanesian, aims to draft a strategic plan on how Vanuatu can go out and give awareness to the people about the plastic bag ban that will come into effect on July 1.

Attending the workshop are representatives from the private sector and the government as well as officers from SPREP.

Municipla representative Mwetu Sandy.
Municipal representative Mwetu Sandy.

A representative of the Port Vila Municipal said they are very fortunate to be part of the workshop because this legislation will help minimize the cost of work done at the Bouffa Landfill.

“According to research we did, 2500 plastic bags are taken every day to the landfill and working with plastic bags at the landfill is very costly,” said Mwetu Sandy.

“The legislation is a boost to what we are working on,” he said.