IUCN Oceania regional director says “plastic pollution is a problem that we need to fix” as developments and economics rise continue to increase consumption of pollutant-making products in the Pacific region

Plastic pollution threatens efforts toward sustainable economies, healthy societies and a sustainable future for Pacific communities.

During a 24-hour global symposium on the role of environmental law to address the pollution crisis, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Oceania regional director Mason Smith said as developments and economics rose, our consumption of pollutant-making products would continue to increase.

“In these instances, without thought to the environment we contribute to the introduction of harmful materials into our pristine environment right here in Oceania,” he said.

“Plastic pollution is no doubt the most challenging to tackle in the past 40 years and the science is clear, plastic pollution is a problem that we need to fix.

“I’ve been told that approximately eight to 10 million tonnes of plastic debris enter the ocean each year and this is attributed to reasons such as unsustainable behavioural patterns, the existence of law enforcement legislation, ineffective waste management systems and unknown leakage sources.”

He said a study carried out in 2019 under the three-year “Pacific Waste Free Islands” project in Fiji found that around 19,667 tonnes of plastic material was imported into the country and from these 4880 tonnes was leaked into the environment.

“The data revealed that around 40 per cent of the leaked plastic waste came from the household sector which is equivalent to around 1939 tonnes of plastic waste and 45 per cent came from commercial businesses.

“The fishery sector leaked around 2.9 tonnes of consumable plastics and about 19.9 tonnes of fishing gear.

“In the tourism sector, tourists generated seven times more plastic waste per person a day than a Fijian resident and 13 percent of tourism waste is plastic,” he said.

This story was written by Shanelle Prasad, originally published at The Fiji Times on 08 June 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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