Our lands and seas have become clogged with plastic and other litter derived from bags and packaging materials. Businesses need to take the lead and start the transition to greener biodegradable packaging.
We know that 80% of pollution in the marine environment has its sources on land and in 2016, coordinated Pacific-wide efforts during the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Clean-up Day with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), our data collection showed, amidst over 2,000kg of rubbish weighed in, the vast majority consisted of food and beverage containers – plastic bottles, plastic bags, and snack food wrappers, respectively, were collected in the highest quantities. Without adequate incentives and provisions by both the private sector business producing these goods and the relevant government authorities, consumers will continue to treat packaging as waste; a by-product of a linear transactional process. There are currently dozens of enterprises in Fiji producing packaging goods for both their own and other businesses’ products. Few of these businesses have instituted protocols for capture, collection, and recovery of the waste associated with their products, nor has general incorporation of biodegradable, compostable, or otherwise sustainable materials into product lifecycles become standard practice within the market.
The concept of “Green Packaging” seeks to mainstream best practices and technology employed elsewhere in the global market to bring closed loop packaging production into the operations of locally-based businesses providing consumer goods to the Pacific Islands. This action will serve to enable and facilitate biodiversity safeguarding, resource conservation, and reduction of both material & energy consumption in the process of packaging of goods for Pacific Island Countries. As SPREP explored in their waste resource kit, Rubbish is a Resource, public understanding and governmental policy must support the role private sector must play in appropriately managing solid waste pollution and creating a viable market for its reincorporation into the economic activities of Pacific Island Countries.
Benefits of Green Packaging
- Reduce degradation of terrestrial, coastal, and marine environments through the promotion and mainstreaming of waste capture, separation, and valuation.
- Introduce and Redesign business infrastructure to accommodate and further promote sustainable resource use and cyclical economies;
- Develop a policy and regulatory environment in which local production and waste collection are prioritized; and
- Reduce fossil fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy intensity per dollar revenue generated by local business operations;
- Fijian Government: Ministries of Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service & Communications; Education; Industry, Trade & Tourism; Local Government, Housing, Environment, Infrastructure & Transport;
- Private Sector packaging, food & beverage producers, and supermarkets
- Development partners including: Asian Development Bank; World Bank; World Health Organization; United Nations Development Programme;
- City and Town Councils (Ba, Labasa, Lautoka, Levuka, Nadi, Nasinu, Nausori, Savu Savu, Suva)
- Universities: Fiji National University, University of the South Pacific
- NGOs/CSOs: Live & Learn, Suva Harbour Foundation, C3, WWF
Phase out of Plastic Bags
A network of concerned organisations recently organised Talanoa Sessions to discuss the impact of plastics on our environment and particularly on our oceans, and the need for a phase out of plastic bags. The goal of the meeting was to reach an agreement on acceptable timelines for such a phase out and that this process be led by the Private Sector.
Summary Outcomes and full meeting minutes can be found here.