A Plastic Free Pacific?

Movements toward a plastic free world seem to be on the rise globally.

In the Pacific, Vanuatu was reported to become the first state in the world to ban plastic straws. Since 1 July 2018, it is officially an offence in Vanuatu to sell single use plastic shopping bags, plastic drinking straws and polystyrene boxes. Import and local manufacture of these products are also illegal.

In Fiji, a plastic levy is in place since 1 August 2017. Businesses are required to charge a levy of 10 cents per plastic bag. The plastic levy is one source of the newly introduced Environment and Climate Adaptation Levy (known as ECAL). During the first year of implementation, over FJD 6 million have been collected by the plastic levy alone and over FJD 110 million by all ECAL sources. 60% of all ECAL funds have been utilised for infrastructure development while almost 30% has been committed to TC Winston rehabilitation projects.

In Vanuatu, one idea behind the plastic ban is that it would boost the production of traditional food baskets and stimulate the local economy. In Fiji, however, some shops have already started to sell manufactured non-plastic bags which are levy free. It will be interesting to see whether the business of traditional baskets will indeed flourish in Vanuatu or whether mass-produced non-plastic alternatives are able to satisfy customer demands at the cost of local production…

Land pollution in Fiji after a major festival on Viti Levu (Kessler, 2014)