The Government’s plan to ban single-use plastics was on the agenda during a public consultation at the Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi (T.A.T.T.E.) building yesterday.
The meeting was part of a two-day consultation in Upolu as the Government moves to draft a legislation to regulate plastics.
Facilitated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.), the aim was to seek feedback from the community.
Assistant C.E.O., Seumalo Afele Failagi, said they were looking for issues that people face at the village level and in this particular meeting, they wanted to hear their perspective.
“It is also part of Samoa’s commitment to regional strategy and global community in combatting plastic pollution which is affecting our ocean, our marine resources as well as our environment,” said Seumalo.
“The plan is we are looking to having the legislation in place around September.”
Seumalo said that the Government believes Samoa is on the right path by working towards legislation to ban plastics, given that there has been a 28.9 percent increase of waste generation over the last 6 years
There is a huge number of wastes being generated and significant amount percentage is of plastic. And of course you have noticed around the main road how our people mentality is in the proper management of plastic waste.
“The Ministry is trying to work with the community so that people can understand how best they can manage plastic in proper ways, starting at the household level as well as government. I think that this initiative is really good for Samoa to ensure the health of the nation and our environment in general.”
At this point, Seumalo would agree that it is misleading to assume that all plastics will banned with the new legislation in September.
He said this is why consultation were needed to prioritise which plastics to focus on. They will also implement a ‘phase out’ approach to implementing the legislation and first looking at single use plastics, Styrofoam and straws.
“When we talk about plastic, it’s not including all plastics but looking at our priority – what are the issues that we are facing so that we know which type of plastic we are going to focus on,” he said.
“This consultation is to confirm, as a Ministry we need to consult the public, so that they provide the feedback and also to confirm some of these types of plastics we need to be focusing on instead of us coming up with the initiative. We will also consider the safety of our food packaging so we’re not going to ban all plastics but looking at the single use plastics and Styrofoam, straws.”
Changing mindsets, however, says Seumalo will take a little bit longer.
“I wouldn’t say it’s cultural but for someone who has been growing up in Samoa all my life, I’ve seen people throw rubbish out of the car, kids and sometimes adults. Changing mindsets is a long term target and it takes a bit of time to be able to sink in the message about proper disposal of waste.”
The consultation meetings is moving to Savai’i today.