PNG Environment Minister looks to phase out plastic bags
Papua New Guinea's Environment Ministry is pushing efforts to phase in biodegradable plastic bags.
Papua New Guinea is moving towards a total ban on plastic bags, according to the Environment Minister.
PNG's Conservation and Environment Protection Authority has reportedly begun implementing a ban on non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags.
The ban has been officially in place for several years but not seriously implemented until now.
Companies and industries operating locally are being told they must comply with the law or face prosecution.
The Environment Minister, John Pundari, spoke to Johnny Blades about the policy.
JOHN PUNDARI: I am of the view that vendors, businesses and organisations that are dealing with plastic bags are well-informed that we are now progressing towards a total ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags, and that biodegradable is the way to go.
JOHNNY BLADES: Are you encountering much resistance from the business sector?
JP: No, not necessarily. To date, we have had the best of co-operation from business institutions. I think it is good corporate citizenship of businesses that practice in PNG that they do the right thing by our environment. And it is a good social responsibility that they adhere to the legislations and policies of government. And so far we have had very good co-operation from industries, retailers, wholesalers, people who would be interested in biodegradable plastic bags or plastic bags as a part of their business activities. Some of our plastic bags, biodegradable they may be. Some degrade faster than others. We're interested in biodegradable plastic bags that degrade into the environment faster. And it's one of the challenges at the present time that we need the technology that we can be able to test and see if the biodegradable plastic bags imported to our country can degrade faster and at the rate we would want them to degrade. That is one of our challenges. But otherwise my organisation has the mandated responsibility to approving or sanctioning the import of biodegradable plastic bags and at the present time, we are enjoying a very good relationship with our customs and things seem to be progressing well but we need to improvise in areas of technology, so as to ensure the right biodegradables are being imported into the country.
JB: So it will be costly to audit this ban, to check on how things are going and to implement it, would that be right?
JP: Exactly right. It is not an easy exercise. It's a costly exercise also. But I think alignment, working in partnership with other agencies of the state, especially with customs, making processes easier, would be able to ensure that we minimise costs as we go along.
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