FIJI (XINHUA) - Single-use plastic bags will no longer be easily available in the island state as a ban on the manufacture, sale, and supply of such bags starts on New Year's Day (Jan 1).
The ban is a step towards achieving a plastic-free environment that will help Fiji's tourism industry and marine life. Fiji's Ministry of Economy Head of Climate Change Nilesh Prakash urged Fijians to add the ban on single-use plastic bags to their New Year resolutions.
Fiji Revenue and Customs Service Chief Executive Officer Visvanath Das said the heavy penalties for manufacturing, selling and supplying of single-use plastic bags would be seen as a deterrent.
He said that those who make such bags would face fines amounting to Fijian $500,000 (about S$315,000) or seven years' jail, or both. For the sale of plastic bags, the fine will be Fijian $150,000 (S$95,000).
And from Jan 2021, there will be a ban on styrofoam and plastic straws as well. With the plastic ban enforced on Jan 1, Mr Prakash said some women's groups in Fiji were already taking initiatives to help in the transition process by making cloth shopping bags.
He said manufacturers are already in the transition process, resorting to the production of paper bags to replace plastic bags.
Eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean each year and it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in ocean. Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) Kosi Latu said at the opening of the Clean Pacific Roundtable 2018 that plastics was now a food security issue.
A study on fish ingestion with samples from the Pacific including Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa showed that 97 per cent of all fish species sampled had micro-plastics, 30 per cent higher than the global average.
Mr Latu noted that this would be a serious problem for the Pacific, where fish is the main source for protein, and where fish consumption is at least approximately three or four times higher than the global average.