PNG BAN ON PLASTIC BAGS GOING INTO EFFECT

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By Alex Rheeney

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 30) – A ban on the import and sale of plastic shopping bags in Papua New Guinea will come into effect on Saturday.

Environment and Conservation Minister William Duma announced the ban in paid advertisements yesterday, and stated that he used provisions of the Environment Act 2000 to introduce an interim policy to stop the import, manufacture and sale of plastic shopping bags in the country.

The 12-month policy would ensure that the import and sale of plastic shopping bags into PNG would be banned effective Saturday, and the manufacture and sale of plastic shopping bags in the country would be stopped as of June 1 next year. Failure to observe the policy is an offence.

Inter-Government Relations Minister Sir Peter Barter praised Mr Duma and described the ban as "a very positive move" that would restore the beauty of PNG’s towns and cities.

He urged the public to use bilums – woven bags - and baskets and asked businesses to phase out the use of plastic bags.

However, he asked businesses not to take bilums and baskets off shoppers, especially the womenfolk who carry them as part of their attire.

"Governors and leaders in each province must publish the benefits of using bilums and baskets in a way that reflects the pride people have in wearing these personal and useful craft items," Sir Peter said.

Attempts to contact several PNG-based plastic shopping bag manufacturers yesterday for their comments were unsuccessful but an industry official decried the "short notice", saying major supermarkets that used "check out bags" to pack their customers’ goods were yet to be informed of alternatives.

Paper product advocates welcomed the announcement and said the ban would ensure plastic bags became a thing of the past.

The general manager of paper company Niugini Paper Corporation (NPC), Henry Rumints, said his company had the capacity to meet the PNG public’s demands for paper shopping bags through their two factories in Port Moresby and Lae.

Describing the ban as "great stuff", the NPC general manager said plastic bags were an environmental hazard and they joined forces with environment groups in recent years that pushed for plastic bags to be banned.

December 31, 2004

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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