PAPUA NEW GUINEA BANS PLASTIC BAGS

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PINA, Feb. 4) - Shops and businesses in the Papua New Guinea Highlands city of Mount Hagen will be banned this month from using plastic bags.

City Manager Pious Pim said: "There will be a total ban on plastic bags in the city. Plastics have become horrible and very unhealthy for the general public when not disposed of properly after use."

They also took away soil fertility in rural gardens if not disposed of properly, he said.

The city’s move comes amid the growing concern in the Pacific islands region over the environmental impact of the constantly growing use of plastic bags.

Late last year, Papua New Guinea Coastal Cleanup Committee Chairman Jamie Maxtone-Graham said the environmental lobby group had declared war.

"We should encourage a ban on plastic bags and use paper bags," he said. "We will pay a little extra on paper bags but it is biodegradable unlike plastic bags which are hard to breakdown (organically)."

The group was trying to get a member of parliament to push through legislation to ban the use of plastic bags in Papua New Guinea, he said.

Pim said Mount Hagen businesses will be given enough time to use up all the plastic bags they have in stock.

He said there will be exceptions for plastic bags with handles, which would be used regularly and specifically for shopping. But all other bags would be banned.

"The sight of waste bags has become very unpleasant and gives the city a very untidy look," Pim said. "We have plans to tidy up the city."

He said he had written to the Western Highlands Chamber of Commerce advising them of the move.

"I have not received any feedback," he said. "This shows they have received the message and have relayed it to businesses in Western Highlands."

The Chamber of Commerce confirmed receiving the letter from the city authority

February 4, 2003 

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