Ministry makes public appeal on plastic ban policy
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) has appealed to the public and businesses to keep supporting and complying with the Government's plastic ban policy.
The plastic ban policy came into effect on January 1, 2019 and specifically targetted plastic straws and single-use plastic bags.
MNRE Assistant C.E.O. (environment conservation), Seumalo Afele Faiilagi, made the appeal Wednesday following reports some supermarkets in Apia have gone back to using single-use plastic bags, especially for pastry products from their bakeries.
"There is a process that we just issue warnings to inform them about the non-compliance and so at the moment we are undergoing our monitoring programs as part of the monitoring bill.
"We try to monitor and discuss with the businesses, and we’re still trying to monitor and go through the process you know, but as of now no we have not charged anyone due to the legislation on the plastic bans," he said in an interview with the Samoa Observer.
Seumalo added that the Ministry is actively working towards getting everyone to be compliant by the time the 2019 Pacific Games kicks off in Apia in July this year.
"But in terms of monitoring, we are also mindful of the Pacific Games coming up. And this is also why we look at this as part of preparations, to ensure that by the time of the games, we should be able to seek the support of the public and businesses so that the get rid of these plastics.
"But for now we are trying to work together targeting places like the market, and also Sunday market like the fish market whereof and then our team will also be there to continue on with this monitoring reminding people of the ban," he added.
The A.C.E.O. said that they continue to monitor, advise and discuss with businesses to better understand the terms of the regulation that is in place.
"We are still in the monitoring phase because our hope is by June we should have a fair idea of a percentage of the business who have complied.
"We don’t want to defeat the purpose of the Government to have a regulation in place but we will get there.
"It was kind of hard in the beginning, but people have been getting aware and starting to understand, given the reliance of our people on this item but when they do understand they will give in their support for the reason behind it," he said.
Seumalo also acknowledged the support of the public who tip off the Ministry which helped their monitoring program and drew a positive response from the business community.
" There are also reporting from the public, they also email the ministry and then again when we talk about these things, it is everyone’s responsibility so we are welcoming the public’s reports. But there’s a good reception from the whole business community with the many shops complying but only a few things that we need to remind them of based on the understanding of the regulation."
He also used the chance to appeal to the public for their support, reminding them that there is always a choice.
"These laws were put in place for a good cause but it won’t be any good if the people don’t comply.
"We pray for the peoples support as well as the business people because there is always an alternative, and replacements and then again it’s just the matter of ensuring their compliance and their support," Seumalo said.