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Fiji netizens say #PlasticFree campaign is misleading

A road side market in Fiji. Flickr photo by Jared Wiltshire, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Fiji has banned the production and sale of single-use plastic since 1 January 2020. But some netizens have pointed out that the #PlasticFree slogan used by the government is misleading because thicker plastic is still allowed in the country.

The ban on single-use plastic is meant to protect the environment and preserve the natural beauty of the Oceanian nation:

We've finally stopped the sale & distribution of single-use plastic bags which harm our land & our marine life & also dirties our environment making it unattractive for our tourists who'll choose other destinations if we aren't careful.

The ban means single-use plastic can no longer be sold in supermarkets, retail outlets, restaurants, food courts, municipal and roadside markets, and commercial centers.

There will be a fine and prison penalty for manufacturers and retailers found guilty of violating the ban.

Consumers can opt to pay 50 cents for a reusable eco-bag.

There was confusion during the first week of implementing the ban. Both market vendors and buyers were unsure about what type of packaging materials can still be used. Some outlets were warned for using single-use plastic, as shown in this video of officials conducting a random inspection:

The government clarified that plastic with less than 50 microns is banned while plastic with higher than 50 microns is considered a reusable material. A micron is a unit of measurement with 1,000 microns in a millimeter.

Reacting to this clarification, some netizens accused the government of deceiving the public with its #PlasticFree campaign.

A deleted post from the government’s Twitter account was shared to highlight that the ban does not cover ‘thick’ plastic:

Ministry of Economy Head of Climate Change Nilesh Prakash said that enforcing the ban will lead to some difficulties initially but the long-term goal is to change people's mindset and behavior:

In every jurisdiction rather I would say, when this ban was imposed, it was chaotic. You look at developed countries because plastics have become so convenient for us. It’s readily available, it’s light in weight, but I think it’s about creating that transition, it’s about changing that mindset that we need to have overtime.

1 comment

  • Western Australia banned single-use plastic bags and all I see is people now buying rolls of plastic bags to line their bins with. Then the amount of plastic packaging on meat, fruit, vegetables, has increased so much it still means we have more and more plastic coming online. Then our only recycling centres burned down so we are burying the waste of 2 million Perthites. Governments need to do better and not allow this to happen in the first place. Paper bags like they used in the Brady Bunch were fine and what we used in 70s. They break down, compost and feed the worms. Plastic does not. It makes me feel very despondent at the way world governments allows business to exist that are ultimately harmful to our current and future world. I agree with the majority of comments appearing above.

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