The Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, announced last Sunday that his country will introduce a progressive ban to all plastic bags and bottles that cannot be reused. The government stresses in the Vanuatu Daily Post that disposal of plastic waste has become a huge problem for the small insular nation, that “bottles and plastic bags are risky to human life and the environment” and that “keeping the environment in Vanuatu clean and safe is a priority of the government”. The announcement was made on the Vanuatu Independence Day, the 30th of July.
The ban will fit right in with the Vanuatu National Ocean Policy, a large overview of the legislation affecting the 680,000 sq km of Pacific Ocean under its custody. “The Ocean policy embeds the culture of the ocean into ocean management and merges across different uses, users and ocean managers” explains an official explanation.
An online petition initiated the change
A month before the announcement, activists started a popular petition demanding the ban of plastic bags from the nation. The online petition got 1700 signatures in the country of 270,000 people.
The “No plastic bag, plis” petition called for Vanuatu to vote legislation to reduce the use of plastic bags and value re-usable shopping bags and local baskets.
This victory just motivated the activists even more, as the announcement did not include any practical detail : “We are, of course, continuing our campaign while waiting for this promise to materialize through the drafting of a law and its adoption by Parliament. The fight goes on!”
If single-use plastic bottles are forbidden from importation and use in the country as promised, Vanuatu will become the first country in the world to enact such a radical measure against plastic pollution. Until now, only universities, municipalities and the state of Sikkim in India had enacted restrictions on plastic bottles. See also Costa Rica also wants to be the first country to ban plastic
Featured photo credit (for illustration only): Children play on the litter-strewn beach off Jacmel, Haiti. (© Robin Moore) from Conservation.org