A conservationist has praised the Samoan Government for banning the use of plastic and straws from January 2019.
Conservation International manager (oceans and climate change), Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, told Samoa Observer in an interview that plastic is non-biodegradable and will impact on the island for hundreds of years.
“I commend the Government of Samoa on the notion to ban plastics and straws in January next year. Plastic isn’t biodegradable, which means it’s impact on environment lasts for hundreds of years, most notably for our Pacific Islands, the impact of plastic on oceans is a great concern as it has a tremendous impact on marine life,” she said.
“If you consider each plastic item as eventually ending up in our oceans, that leaves a very significant and long lasting impact on the health of our oceans. Studies have shown that plastic threatens the existence of the life under water right from smaller fishes to huge mammals and amphibians in several ways. Reports say that around one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed every due to plastic ingestion. Unfortunately, several marine species are on the verge of extinction because of such type of ocean pollution.”
She said banning plastics is essential to managing waste as it impacts on the ocean and environment.
“Samoa is to be commended for the foresight in banning plastic bags in 2003 and in the recent announcement to ban single used plastic straws and other items from our shores. This is a very significant move not just for our communities but for the Pacific as a whole, Niue, Vanuatu and Fiji have recently implemented similar measures. Overall, banning of plastics also means we have stopped contributing to the production process by cutting our demand for single use plastics.”
With the ban on plastics to come into effect next year, Lagipoiva said there are alternatives that Samoans can consider using such as traditional materials or opting for biodegradable utensils such as bamboo straws and wooden and metal cutlery.
“It’s important to remember that before plastic bags, styrofoam plates, plastic straws and cutlery came along, our ancestors survived perfectly fine using traditional materials such as ‘atoato’, drinking straight from a coconut or a cup, ‘ma’ilo’ and eating with our hands. Alternatives to plastics have been developed over the years and local businesses have taken some of this on, such as metal and bamboo straws, paper cups and plates and wooden and metal cutlery.”
Thanking the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.) and other partners for taking the lead, she said Conservation International is supporting the Government to formulate an oceans strategy, which would build on initiatives already in place.