We’ll learn, P.M. says about plastic ban

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is unfazed by unclear guidelines around bag ban violations, saying the Government can watch the implementation and learn.

As of today, Samoans have just over two months to use and abuse plastic shopping bags, packing bags and straws before they are banned on 20th January 2019.

The technical and legal teams at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E) don’t quite have the penalties lined up yet. 

But Prime Minister Tuilaepa is not in a rush.

“Very often times we put into action a certain requirement and then watch as it is implemented and we learn from the experience,” he said.

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“In any case, what we are doing is no different from what other countries are doing and we shall coordinate our experiences to make sure we have some uniformity as well as learning from the experiences of others.”

But whatever the consequences work out to be, the Prime Minister wants them to be firm.

“On these matters we need to be very firm because the issue of climate change is such that governments and particularly the small island countries which are the first ones to be impacted, need to put in strong measures and then judge as we go along whether we should strengthen it more.”

Banning three out of thousands of disposable plastic items is just a small step in a massive project, Tuilaepa said, as things must be done carefully.

“The whole issue is to protect our oceans and the creatures that are being killed because of plastics. At the same time we have to draw some balance as regards the consumer needs,” he said.

Trusting that the marketplace will adapt to changes, Tuilaepa said he is sure manufacturers in China and the like are ready to flood Samoa with reusable bags as they have been seen doing abroad.

“I was passing through New Zealand and saw some reusable bags used there. I picked one up and looked at the manufacturer’s name: made in China. I am sure China is well ahead in terms of production of alternative bags and containers.”

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