Plastic Bag Usage Alarming

The Department of Environment has revealed that the minimum number of plastic bags used annually in Fiji is about 50 million to 60 million. And the Fiji Revenue and Customs
13 Jun 2018 11:00
Plastic Bag Usage Alarming
Students march through Labasa Town as part of World Environment Day celebrations on June 12, 2018. Photo: Nacanieli Tuilevuka

The Department of Environment has revealed that the minimum number of plastic bags used annually in Fiji is about 50 million to 60 million.

And the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service has collected a total of $3,521,239 in plastic bag environment levy.

While launching the National Environment Campaign for Northern Division at the Civic Centre in Labasa yesterday, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment Parveen Bala said the risks posed by plastic bags were enormous not only to human health, but to the environment and marine life.

Mr Bala said every living creature in the oceans today, from planktons to whales, have been found to have digested micro plastics.

“Across Fiji, I am making the same call for all of us to come together to combat one of the greatest environmental challenges at all times. This is a timely reminder to us all on the increasing magnitude of plastic pollution faced worldwide today,” he said.

“The more plastic bags you use, the greater chances of environmental damage. Research has shown that rural communities have often used plastics, especially plastic bags as mean of lighting fire, which thus releases some very toxic gases in the environment.

“These toxins are known to cause respiratory disease, birth defects, cancer, nervous and immune system disorders.

“We do not give much thought when lighting a match to burn plastics. Not realising or caring that smouldering plastics can release toxic fumes into the environment, in turn taking air pollution to much higher levels,” he said.

Considering the significant global environment problem caused by plastics, he said the Government was inviting all Fijians to join the fight in beating plastic pollutions.

“We need to treat every inch of our islands and its environment, with the same care and attention to cleanliness, as we do in our houses,” he said.

“We do not spit in our houses, we do not toss wrappers in our living rooms and we do not throw rubbish underneath our beds.

“So why do we do this in our public space. Why do we have so much rubbish lying around our towns and cities, on our roadsides, beaches, rivers and streams.

“As Fijians, we are not treating our islands the same way as we are treating our homes as we are treating our homes.

“The same pride has to be with you every day, here in the Friendly North, when you make choices on the environment,” he said.

World Environment Day is marked annually on June 5 and is the United Nations principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment.

Students and civil servants in the Northern Division had a march to declare Vanua Levu a “Plastic Free Society”.

“We are here to take a collective action to protect and defend our environment. It can only be done when we keep our eyes open and be active to bring some positive changes within ourselves and our environment,” Mr Bala said.

Edited by Epineri Vula



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