Plastic crisis in the Pacific | Paris urges political will; must turn off ‘plastic tap’

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Plastic rubbish found in a waterway in Suva. Picture: FT FILE

We are facing a crisis, it’s a plastic pollution crisis, says local marine researcher and environment co-ordinator for Blue Prosperity Fiji Andrew Paris.

In his address to more than 200 delegates at the recent Pacific Islands Conference on Ocean Science and Oceans Management in Nadi, Mr Paris explained that this was a crisis people continued to battle in this day and age.

He added the political will was needed in the fight to lessen and mitigate this plastic crisis.

“Obviously the political will has to be there,” Mr Paris said.

“But that political will kind of sits behind some actual solutions and the solutions are not just for Fiji, but for the Pacific.

“The first solution we’re talking about is to turn off the plastic tap and because we don’t manufacture a lot of plastics in Fiji or in the Pacific, reduce the number of plastics that are being imported because right now over the past 10, 20 years is everything, nearly everything we buying, all the products or the food we see on the shelves are made of plastic.

“So we’re trying to advocate for upstream solutions for plastic pollution.

“We’re not talking about trying to manage the waste, we’re talking about trying to prevent plastics coming in because if we focus on managing solution, we’re mopping the floor when the tap is still on.”

Mr Paris said turning off the tap and reducing or avoiding import of plastic products would be the only way out.

He indicated that there was not enough political will being undertaken to enable such a stance to be undertaken.

Mr Paris added that other countries in the region should take their cue from the Solomon Islands which has recently gazetted a regulation to ban the certain type of single-use plastics.

“We should be trying to limit the importation of plastics into the country, knowing full well that governments in the Pacific lack capacity and changing the mindset of a people are one of the hardest things to do.”

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