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Editorial: Let’s Get Our Facts Right On Plastic

Get your facts right on the 10 cents plastic levy. Scores of people have come out of the woodwork, having little to no knowledge about the Environment and Climate Adaptation
05 Aug 2017 11:54
Editorial: Let’s Get Our Facts Right On Plastic

Get your facts right on the 10 cents plastic levy. Scores of people have come out of the woodwork, having little to no knowledge about the Environment and Climate Adaptation Levy, but decrying the initiative.

For those who missed Assistant Minister for Environment Lorna Eden’s address in Parliament regarding what plastic does to our environment here are some facts:

  1. In Hong Kong, back in 2005, 8 billion plastic bags ended up in the landfills. In Canada the figure was between9 – 15 billion. If that number is too big to think about, then picture this – If we tied 9 billion bags together they would circle the earth 55 times!
  2. Plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources. Just 8.7 plastic shopping bags contain enough embodied petroleum energy to drive a car 1 kilometre.
  3. Five minutes versus 1000 years. The average plastic bag is used for five minutes to carry your purchases home, yet these single-use plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to break down.
  4. Plastic bags are known to kill sea birds, sea mammals and fish. Turtles, dolphins, and whales can choke or starve by confusing plastic bags for jellyfish. On land, plastic bags kill birds and livestock.
  5. Plastic bags block drains and sewers which leads to flooding of our waterways.
  6. Every piece of plastic ever made, still exists. There are approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in each square mile of the world’s oceans. In some places there is more plastic than plankton! Plastic bags are in the top 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups.
  7. Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade. Photodegradation is a chemical reaction between plastic and sunlight. It means that the plastic bags break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits, contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest them.
  8. Up to 47 per cent of wind borne litter escaping from landfills is plastic, mainly plastic bags. These end up in our forests, grasslands, waterways, and oceans. Approximately80 per cent of marine trash is swept by wind and rain off our highways, Streets and landfills, down streams and rivers, and then out to Sea.
  9. Re-usable bags are the solution! A sturdy, re-usable bag will last for years, and only needs to be used 5 times to have a lower environmental impact. This is not forced on anyone. Nothing is stopping you from taking reusable bags with you when you go out shopping. A laughable post on social media stated that an elderly lady was waiting for someone to carry her cartons to the bus. The same products in plastics would also need someone to carry them. So what is the point behind the post?

If dozens of countries for years can focus on using reusable bags, so can we. If we are to save our environment for the future generations, we need to act now. Just grumbling about rubbish will not achieve anything.

Jyoti Pratibha

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



FS JAB DRIVE


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