Koutu Nui proposes ban on plastic bags

Thursday February 22, 2018 Written by Published in Environment
A day’s worth of plastic going into the Arorangi landfi ll. 18022103 A day’s worth of plastic going into the Arorangi landfi ll. 18022103

Koutu Nui, the group comprising traditional leaders of the Cook Islands, is working on a submission to ban the importation of plastic bags into the country.


Koutu Nui president Terea Mataiapo Paul Allsworth said they were working with the Minister for Environment Kiriau Turepu and the environment agencies to achieve this.

He said they have been working and gathering support to prepare a proposal to the minister for the ban on importation of plastic bags.

Allsworth said minister Kiriau supported the recommendation from the Koutu Nui in principle.

“The Koutu Nui has gathered support from key environment agencies such as Ms Jaime Short of WATSAN, Joseph Brider of National Environment Service and Te Ipukarea Society (TIS),” Allsworth said.

“Our landfill is nearing capacity and thousands of plastics bags are amongst other waste products at the Arorangi Waste Site.”

Allsworth said Koutu Nui acknowledges and is pleased with the work of Cook Islands General Transport in clearing old discarded vehicles from the island.

He commended the company for its work in keeping the environment green and clean.

“All this work leads to supporting our environment goals under the National Sustainable Development Goals – a clean, green and healthy environment which also impacts on our tourism and land based activities.”

Earlier this year, Vanuatu imposed a ban on single use non-biodegradable plastic, including bags and polystyrene takeaway containers.

The ban came into effect from January 31 and the Vanuatu government said local plastic bag manufacturers will only be allowed to use biodegradable plastics.

WATSAN director Jaime Short earlier told this newspaper that the Cook Islands could pursue the same style of ban, although it will be done in a step-by-step fashion so not to create too much of a shock for residents

“There are definitely some items that we on the Solid Waste committee want to ban, such as plastic bags, and products containing micro beads and plastic straws,” she said.

“Our goal is to eventually control what is coming on to the island, depending on the quality and efficiency of products.”

            - Rashneel Kumar


Plastics Fact file

-           Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade – breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits.

-           A plastic bag can take between 400 to 1000 years to break down in the environment.

-           As it breaks down, plastic particles contaminate soil and waterways and enter the food web when animals accidentally ingest them.

-           In the ocean, these particles eventually end up in massive whirlpool-like currents in the oceans called gyres. Our planet has five major gyres.

-In some locations, there is 46 times more plastic than available food for marine animals.

-           Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year.

-Nearly 90% of the debris in our oceans is plastic.

-           Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation.

-           Plastic debris accumulates persistent organic pollutants (POPs) like PCBs and DDT at high concentrations. Many of these pollutants are known endocrine disruptors.

-When fish and other marine animals ingest plastic debris, they are also ingesting these toxins.

-           If the food we eat is contaminated with toxins, we will be too.

Source: conservingnow.com

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