Pure Fiji: Fighting Hard Against Plastic Pollution

With the widespread epidemic of plastic pollution damaging the environment, especially along our coastal areas, Pure Fiji has joined the movement to introduce eco-friendly bags. Eco-bags are the in-thing right
26 Aug 2017 12:07
Pure Fiji: Fighting Hard Against Plastic Pollution
The Pure Fiji eco-bags. Photo: Maraia Vula

With the widespread epidemic of plastic pollution damaging the environment, especially along our coastal areas, Pure Fiji has joined the movement to introduce eco-friendly bags.

Eco-bags are the in-thing right now and are replacing the disposable plastic bags which take hundreds
and even thousands of years to decompose.

To mark the start of the Government’s new financial year, it brought into effect an unprecedented measure to protect our natural environment from pollution – a 10 cents levy on plastic bags.

Ten cents are now charged per bag in order to reduce plastic waste and usage in Fiji.

The 10 cents per bag levy is imposed on plastic bags at the point of sale. It is to encourage shoppers to use their own re-usable carry bags.

The Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) had said the tax is applicable to all businesses, but implemented on a phased approach beginning with all business with the Point of Sale System (POS).

Under the Environment Levy (Budget Amendment) Act 2017, the 10 cents levy is payable by a customer when provided a plastic bag from retailers that use a POS and will be reflected on invoices and receipts.

Retailers are required to then transfer the levy monthly to FRCA separately from the service turnover and value added tax.

Fiji Fuel Retailers Association has indicated that 75 fuel service stations would introduce the 10 cents levy on single use plastic bags from next Tuesday.

Members of the public are encouraged to use reusable bags.

Currently the 10 cents levy is only applicable to shops with POS.

These are traders who have a computerised system handling financial transactions including the tax information will be presently charging the plastic bag levy.

The levy paid by consumers will be reflected on their receipts.

Alternatively, it is understood that shops and traders who use a cash register should not be charging this levy as yet, since it may not be reflected in the consumer receipt and trader transaction.

Cash registers record sales transactions which can be either manual or electronic.

Hence, the Consumer Council of Fiji in an earlier statement called on traders who own cash registers to do the right thing and not make consumers pay for the plastic bag levy.

The Consumer Council of Fiji stated: “On the other hand, consumers are urged to be mindful of the system which requires them to pay 10 cents per plastic bag during their shopping.

“Consumers are further encouraged to report on traders who may tend to apply the 10 cents per plastic bag levy at the cash register counters which is not reflected on their receipts.”

This is said to be the beginning of a new movement for Fiji that we take ownership of the environment.

For Gaëtane Austin, the Pure Fiji director, her fight against plastics bags has been a long one.

“I have been fighting that for a long, long time.

It’s really hard to get people to switch from plastic to paper bags, because the paper gets soggy.

“We want to support Government’s initiative on restriction of plastic bags.

“It’s the people that are careless throwing their rubbish everywhere. We’ve got to stop it because we are breeding another generation of children who will be like their parents and throw everything in the river.

“It’s really unkind to do that because for the squatters who are living down the river, it destroys their food source.”

The small Pure Fiji eco-bags are being sold at two for $10 while the big bags are given as a gift with a purchase of a certain amount of products.
The eco-bags are being sold to people to encourage them to use it to put their products in rather than using plastics.

“The eco-bags are made out of thin fabric, but its so strong and you can use it over and over again.

“It’s a folded bag that’s small and when you want to go and shop or marketing you just unfold and its easy.

“We are still using the Pure Fiji plastic bags until they run out. We are trying to convert as fast as we can because we feel we have to support the initiative of no more plastics bags.”

This movement makes us take greater responsibility for our actions and decisions.

It will make every member of our society fight to clean up our rivers.

In the wise words of our Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama who said in an earlier statement: “Government will continue to lead from the front on this issue and, together, we will build a better and cleaner Fiji.”

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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