Samoa to add more plastic items to the ban list upon the availability of appropriate alternatives in the fight against plastic pollution

The Samoa Government will add more plastic items to the national ban that is currently in place on single-use plastic, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) CEO has revealed.

Lealaisalanoa Frances Reupena-Brown told the Samoa Observer the country joined the global fight against plastic pollution when it introduced the Waste (Plastic Bag) Management Regulations 2018.

She said the regulation prohibits the importation, selling, distribution and use of certain single-use plastics such as plastic shopping bags, plastic packing bags, plastic straws and recently the Styrofoam take-away food packs.

“More plastic items will be added in the ban upon availability of appropriate alternatives,” she said in an interview. “The Government through the Ministry continues to invest significantly in awareness campaigns and environmental education for the general public including schools and communities.

“Plastic wastes are transboundary and the two main sources are land-based and sea-based.

“Most of our plastic wastes end up in the sea and beaches after heavy flooding. 

“The Ministry has conducted a number of cleanups targeting the town area and a number of communities.”

According to Lealaisalanoa, countries around the world including Samoa are currently engaged in an ongoing global dialogue to develop a legally binding instrument to address plastic and marine pollution.   

“This was one of the highlights of the recent United Nations Environment Assembly meeting held earlier in which Samoa participated along with other countries in the Pacific,” she added.

The CEO of the MNRE said currently waste management in Samoa revolves around rubbish collection services in Upolu, Manono-tai, Apolima-tai and Savaii for households only with both private organisations and Government agencies responsible for collection.

“Commercial businesses and government agencies are responsible for transporting their waste to the landfill,” Lealaisalanoa said. “Rubbish is collected twice a week except the main Apia town area which is collected twice daily, bulky waste is collected once every three months but for households only.”

Lealaisalanoa added that the Apia daily litter maintenance services cover the Apia main Beach Road from Mulinuu to Vaiala and involves the collection of litter on a daily basis. 

“Bins are installed at public places for public use which are collected and disposed of at the landfill,” she added.

Minimising pollution and waste reduction are key features of the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) Government’s development blueprint “Pathway for the Development of Samoa” that was launched last month.

The plan has five key strategic outcomes: improved social development; diversified and sustainable economy; security and trusted governance; secured environment and climate change, and structured public works and infrastructure. 

In the plan, the Key Priority Area 16: Effective Environmental Protection and Management Frameworks strives to make Samoa cleaner and greener.

“At a national level, enhanced measures to help minimise pollution, reduce waste and pursue low gas emissions will help maintain cleaner land, water, air and oceans,2 the Pathway reads.

“Stronger environmental surveillance, fuller enforcement of regulations and penalties, and the ongoing delivery of awareness programmes will improve compliance and foster more responsible consumption and production. 

“This will require a strengthening of policies and enforcement measures to protect against environmental harm, including the unsustainable exploitation of the environment for commercial and personal uses.”

This story was written by Marc Membrere, originally published at Samoa Observer on 18 March 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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