$4 billion price tag for Fiji’s plastic pollution

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Plastic bottles and products clog a waterway in Fiji. Picture: SUPPLIED

Despite the stringent control on the usage of plastic, a recently released report is forecasting the total costs due to plastic waste between 2023-2040 to be at an estimated $4 billion, while costs of plastics on marine ecosystem losses will be $3 billion in the same period.

The report, titled “The economic impact of plastic pollution and the benefits of reducing mismanaged waste in Fiji” was released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The report states marine plastic pollution can generate significant economic costs that are associated with loss in revenue from tourism, fishing, aquaculture, transport, and other ocean-based activities.

“In the last several years, Fiji has taken several critical measures to address plastic pollution and has also introduced a robust legislative framework to prevent marine pollution and protect the oceans,” the report states.

The IUCN report states in 2019 public solid plastic waste management costs amounted to $3,187,920 and that 19,674 tonnes of plastic waste was generated in 2019.

The annual estimated amount of waste disposed of through formal waste management processes in 2019 amounted to 139,558 tonnes, out of which 14,884 tonnes were plastics.

The report stated 4880 tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste were generated and 1220 tonnes of plastics leaked into the marine environment.

“The total costs of plastic waste in Fiji in 2019 are estimated at between $32,576,003 and $44,252,760.

“The total costs due to plastic waste scenario for 2023-2040 are estimated $4,072,724,399 in future value.

“Under the recycling scenario, the quantifiable societal costs, in future values, for 2023-2040 are estimated at costs of marine ecosystem service losses of $2,961,623,090.

“The present value of the additional costs of implementing and managing the recycling system is estimated at $100,381,077, whereas the present value of the gross benefits of the national recycling scenario is estimated to be $322,096,003 for the period of 2023-2040.

“The impact of plastics should not be seen as an isolated effect. Plastic pollution is an additional stressor on marine ecosystems that are already dealing with multiple stressors.”

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