By Lillian Sopera Keneqa – EMTV News, Port Moresby
On May 8th 2018, Environment and Conservation Minister, John Pundari, announced a total ban on plastic bags in Papua New Guinea, however, as you walk around Port Moresby city today, this ban has not been fully enforced yet.
Port Moresby Nature Park, one of the first organisations in PNG to ban plastics, has initiated a project that will bring about a solution for keeping the city clean at the same time educating the public about plastic pollution.
Port Moresby Nature Park has joined the #trashtag challenge, a worldwide event inspiring individuals to go out into the streets and cleanup, then post a before and after picture of the area they cleaned with the hash tag trash tag (#trashtag).
However, Nature Park Manager, Michelle McGeorge, says they will be adding an artistic twist.
“We are also trying to hunt down colorful plastics and we are going to be coming up with a trash to treasure event in June/July. I can’t give too much away but let’s just say we’re going to do something spectacular with all that rubbish we collect,” Ms. McGeorge said.
In a news report published by EMTV Online, Papua New Guinea imports nearly 46,000 kilograms of plastic every year. There have been attempts to ban the amount of plastic coming into the country, first in 2014 and recently in 2018. However, it is evident that the ban continues to face unforeseen challenges.
This issue is global and greatly affecting marine life and the world’s biodiversity.
Just recently a starving whale with 40 kilograms of plastic trash in its stomach and body, died after being washed ashore in the Philippines.
Being one of the first organisations in PNG to ban plastic, the Nature Park is at the forefront of this challenge.
Trash Tag PNG Coordinator and volunteer, Robertha Leo, stated that: “The project will be open to the public and it’s to raise awareness about the issue of plastic pollution, something exciting that will engage the public and get them thinking about the issues we have with plastic in PNG and waste management in particular.”
Two weeks ago, the park did its first encounter of the Trash to Treasure Project with 30 individuals showing up to clean up.
Ms. Leo told EMTV News that “ In the time spent collecting trash, we noticed in every bag of trash, 30 to 50 bags collected, there was always a diaper, several plastic bottles, a lot of plastic straws and plastic cutlery – that was in every bag.”
All the trash collected will be taken to Nature Park and sorted out for the park’s trash to treasure project.
Nature Park Manager, Ms. McGeorge, enthusiastically said, “ We’ll be all about looking at different ways and just thinking about our rubbish – so obviously reduce, reuse and recycle are the main focuses and we will put a creative spin on it just to really start to get people to think about their rubbish.”
This is not a one off clean up marathon. Through this initiative, it is their goal to help teach people about better waste management in particular – plastic, so it becomes an individual’s way of life.
And at the end of the day, the earth will love you for it.