Solomon Islands will soon become the latest Pacific Island country to enforce a ban on single-use plastics in its efforts to address the plastic pollution crisis.
A series of national consultations have been ongoing to inform, engage and receive feedback from key stakeholders on the development of a national plastics regulation that will prohibit the import, manufacture, distribution & supply, sale and use of certain types of single-use plastics.
The efforts are part of the Australian government funded Pacific Ocean Litter Project (POLP) which through the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is supporting the development of the national plastics regulation and the ‘Greening of the 2023 Pacific Games’ initiative which aims to ensure the Games in Honiara is plastic-free.
The latest consultations last month saw more than 90 representatives from government, business and private sector, non-governmental organisations and local communities provide relevant feedback on areas to improve the drafting instructions for the regulation.
Among the issues discussed were the impact on small businesses, provisions for alternative product subsidies, and the implementation of robust enforcement measures to avoid stockpiling and prevent illegal trade and unauthorized usage once the regulations take effect.
“The road to a plastic-free future needs more than just a ban; it necessitates a comprehensive transition towards environmentally friendly alternatives. I urge all of you to explore and promote sustainable alternatives to single use plastic. Let us encourage the use of reusable bags, biodegradable packaging and ecofriendly substitutes for every day plastic items” said Mr Karl Kuper, the Deputy Secretary Corporate, Solomon Islands Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology at the consultation.
The items proposed for the ban include plastic shopping bags, straws, cups, plates and cutleries, polystyrofoam takeaway products and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles for drinking water that can contain less than 1.5 litres.
“This transition will stimulate innovation and drive towards alternative industries. The development and adoption of environmentally friendly alternatives will create opportunities for our local entrepreneurs, foster economic growth and job creation.
“By embarking on sustainable solutions, we position ourselves at the forefront of a green economy, attracting investment and show casing Solomon Islands as a responsible and forward thinking nation,” Mr Kuper added.
In November 2019, the Solomon Islands initiated the process to ban single-use plastics through an initial stakeholder consultation. The global pandemic caused delays to this process but momentum has picked up again this year as the country prepares to host the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara.
“Solomon Islands is one of the seven POLP pilot countries and we are thrilled about the progress of the project so far in Solomon Islands. The regulation paves the way for a future free from the burden of single-use plastics,” said Mr Anthony Talouli, the Director of the Waste Management and Pollution Control Division at SPREP.
“We are also proud of our partnership with the Solomon Islands government and other partners in greening the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara. The project through funding support from Australia has made a large investment in making the games free from single-use plastics. This is part of a number of initiatives that the project will roll out through to 2027”.
The Pacific Ocean Litter Project (POLP) is about reducing the volume of single-use plastics ending up as marine litter in Pacific coastal environments. The 7-year project (2019-2027) is funded with AUD 16 million from the Australian Government and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in collaboration with the governments and peoples of Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
POLP will support the phase out of specific types of single-use plastics from land-based sources, including household litter and tourism waste. It will also support behaviour change in the users, consumers and producers of plastics and the introduction of alternative products.