Vanuatu bans plastic bags and polystyrene containers
Author: Laura Chalk
The Vanuatu government is the first country in the Pacific to establish a National Oceans Policy, with the aim of better managing the ocean and resources for present and future generations.
Come February, it will go one step further, banning the importation of non-biodegradable plastic bags & polystyrene take away containers, with its sights set on eventually becoming completely plastic free.
This announcement comes after around 2,000 people signed a petition supporting legislation to ban single use plastic bags on the Islands.
The ban will be a part of the country’s wider ocean policy, says Toney Tevi, head of Maritime and Ocean Affairs within Vanuatu’s Foreign Ministry.
This holistic approach to ocean protection is one other countries can follow, as plastic becomes one of the biggest scourges on aquatic life.
“We all agreed after national consultation that Vanuatu’s ocean has to be clean for generations to come, and to keep the ocean clean of plastic was one of the major concerns,” Mr Tevi explained in an interview with ABC News.
Mr Tevi’s words indicate a foresight much needed as the world grapples with our plastic addiction and the marine litter that ensues. Another person looking at the present and future state of plastic waste is Christina Shaw, the CEO and founder of the Vanuatu Environmental Science Society.
Ms Shaw has been overseeing a clean-up in Port Vila over the past three years to reveal how much plastic waste has accumulated in the country’s capital. She says that while everyone acknowledges there’s a little bit, “you don’t realise how much until you count it and say ‘look, these are thousands of plastic bags that we picked up over this week’.”
A challenge for the near future, Ms Shaw says, is making it economically viable to recycle plastic products, which currently isn’t the case in the remote pacific nation.
“Some plastic bottles are recyclable but currently the cost of shipping them out to somewhere that will buy them is too expensive.”
Polystyrene containers will be included in the ban; which Ms Shaw is happy about. Of the 1000 takeaway containers collected last year, 641 we made of polystyrene foam.
Ralph Regenvanu, the Minister in Charge of Foreign Affairs, said the Government will aim to ban other plastic products too, including plastic cutlery and straws.
Another move would be to consider new ways to dispose of plastic bottles, Mr Regenvanu said, which would require suppliers to buy them back after use.
Vanuatu is proving to be a leader in environmental protection, not only in the pacific but the greater world. The small island nation has already committed to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals 2015 – 2030 which is to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.”
- Check out Planet Ark's Recycled Product Directory, which includes ways to buy back recycled products to close the recycling loop and keep materials out of landfill.
- Join the movement to Take 3 for the Sea, or as much rubbish as you can collect. Remembering to take our rubbish with us when visiting waterways and all natural environments prevents plastic from entering rivers and oceans.
- Reduce plastic consumption by purchasing alternatives, such as Onya’s reusable produce bags, or the many non-plastic items in the Biome store.
Subscribe to Positive Environment News
Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.
Laura joined Planet Ark in 2016. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience having travelled the world and a background in teaching English as a second language among other things.
- Spain bids farewell to coal »
- Ikea bans single-use plastics from all stores and restaurants »
- The 'people's seat', headed by Attenborough, speaks up on climate change »
- Plastic waste for transport? »
- Australian students take to the streets in the name of their future »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Shifting to regifting »
- Brisbane Tool Library takes share economy to the next level »
- Bag ban yielding results within first three months »
- Pakistan hits billion trees goal ahead of schedule »
- International community approaching nature refuge goals »
- 'Single-use' named 2018 word of the year »
- Queenscliff's Lauren Esplin makes a point about disposable plastics »
- Chris Fong's tennis clocks »
- Ballarat's Food is Free Laneway »
- Burleigh Heads Boomerang Bags »
- Brisbane's recycled fashion shows »
- European parliament approves action on single-use plastics »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - If in doubt, leave it out »
- Naturale pledges to end recycling labelling confusion »
- Agreement reached to safeguard Arctic ecosystems »
- Recycle Street is easy street for City of Gold Coast recyclers »
- A world first interactive museum for sustainable fashion »
- 'Best before' labels reach their use by date »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - a sticky environmental situation »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Preloved clothing as your first fashion option »
- California commits to 100% clean energy by 2045 »
- Mountain gorilla numbers on the rise in Virunga »
- A new standard in sustainable event management »
- The music group turning trash into art »
- Bin the (tea) bag »
- Ireland divests from fossil fuels in world first »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Ditching the glossy mags »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - New life for old things »
- Packaging industry moves towards better plastic recycling outcomes »
- Mexico City is turning its beltways into vertical gardens »
- A sustainable future for fashion »
- Trading trash for a hot cuppa »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Small changes with big impact »
- 'World's most polluted river' finally getting cleaned up »
- War on Waste is back! »
- How Cartridges 4 Planet Ark is part of the solution to plastic pollution »
- The great story behind Lousy Ink »
- Kenyan business Ocean Sole is flipping the flop from waste to art »
- Threatened koalas receive NSW rescue package »
- Scientists discover enzyme that breaks down plastic »
- Reusable sponge that soaks up oil spills »
- Super coral to resist ocean warming »
- Nestlé to go fully reusable and recyclable by 2025 »
- Woolworths, Coles remove plastic bags from stores ahead of schedule »
- The 'queen of green steel' launches landmark e-waste microfactory »
- True colours - how simple bin changes cut waste at ANZ Stadium »
- Dutch scientists developing smart app to measure water pollution »
- The Swedish fitness craze that's good for you and the environment »
- Victorian Government pitches in for councils facing recycling shutdowns »
- Guilt free tea-bags, frozen food and paper drinking straws »
- Planet Ark's flagship recycling info service is getting a makeover »
- Paper or plastic? »
- Woolcool turns waste wool into insulation wonder »
- An innovative solution to the problem of ocean pollution »
- New South Wales Return and Earn Container Deposit Scheme hits 64 million returns »
- Cleaning up the Cove »
- A global commitment to clean oceans »
- Marine plastic pollution: a personal perspective »
- Vast new ocean reserve created off coast of Mexico »
- Plastics inspiration: reasons for hope »
- Planet Ark announced as Donation Partner for NSW Container Deposit Scheme »
- Doing well by doing good: a recipe for sustain-ability »
- Beyond plastic pollution: solutions for a small planet »
- Revolutionary eco-friendly furniture the way of the future »
- Victoria announces plastic bag ban »
- Southern states are bankrolling businesses in the War on Waste »
- Sunshine Coast sisters launch Australian-first sustainability project »
- What do Smiths, Kathmandu and Jurlique have in common? »
- Hobart City Council going further to phase out plastic »
- India's renewable energy target to create 300,000 jobs »
- Australia is one step closer to being plastic bag free »
- World's largest crop of tequila plant set to fuel green energy in far north Queensland »
- ABC's War on Waste creates unprecedented demand for sustainable coffee cups »
- Wood's all good for Tassie after state government announces wood encouragement policy »
- 81-Year-Old Lebanese woman inspires a nation to recycle »
- Painting a Brighter Environmental Future »
- Shell Recycling - Big Gains From Small Things »
- Wriggly Solution To Plastic Pollution: The Caterpillar That Eats Plastic »
- 'Creature Compost' - Zoo Reduces Landfill and Generates Income »
- The Awful Truth About Nappies & Recycling »
- The Project's Bid to Ban the Bag »
- Seabin »
- This South Australian School Has Plans to Eliminate Campus Waste Bins in Seven Years »
- Australia's Biggest E-Waste Processing Plant to Open »
- What if Rivers Could Sue? »
- Is the Supermarket of the Future Plastic Free? »
- These Googly-Eyed Garbage Gobblers Are Cleaning Our Waterways »
- New Technology Turns Beach Plastic into Treasure »
- Tokyo Set to Take Sydney's Green Olympic Medal »
- Disposing of Disposable Plastic in Delhi »
- Approval to Shred Massive Tyre Stockpile in Tasmania »
- Queensland Councils Join the Wood Encouragement Movement »
- Unilever Commits to 100% Recyclable Plastic packaging »
- World's Biggest Beach Clean-up »
- Canada Announces First National Carbon Price »
- Launch of Positive Environment News »