5 Mar 2009

Pacific praised for efforts to reduce plastic bag use

3:02 pm on 5 March 2009

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has commended efforts by Pacific Islands countries to ban plastic bag use.

American Samoa is about to reintroduce a bill to ban plastic bags and Hawaii is considering legislating such a ban.

Dean Higuchi, the EPA press officer for the Pacific, says legislation makes people focus on the issue but consumers also need awareness of their everyday habits and to be willing to reduce, reuse and recycle where possible.

He says plastic bags and plastic waste often end up in the ocean, in water ways and landfills, and the environmental impact is huge.

"Plastic bags that are improperly disposed of or manage to get into the environment can be very harmful to our marine environment. They can actually get to a point where some of the marine life injest the plastic bags and because they don't break down readily they can damage coral reefs - basically looking at damaging the marine environment through the situation where they don't break down readily in the environment."

The Environmental Protection Agency's Dean Higuchi