The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Foreign Trade, responsible for Vanuatu's National Ocean Policy, wishes to inform the general public about an important decision taken by the Council of Ministers in December 2017 to ban import and local manufacture of certain non-biodegradable plastic products.
The government's decision to ban some non-biodegradable plastic products is based on field studies conducted by environmental groups working jointly with the Ministry of the Environment on areas around Efate that have shown that considerable amount of plastic waste has already affected our oceans. Plastic waste in the ocean is called marine litter.
In 2018, the government will take a number of important steps to address the issue of marine litter and sincerely hopes that businesses and businesses, local authorities and the general public will help the government preserve our oceans.
The Government, through the Council of Ministers, has set the following first steps for marine litter management:
1. Prohibit the import of non-biodegradable plastic single-use bags and polystyrene take-away boxes to Vanuatu effective 31 January 2018.
2. Obligation for local manufacturers of plastic bags to use only biodegradable plastics as of January 31, 2018.
3. Investigate and propose a new method for the disposal of plastic bottle waste in Vanuatu from 31 January 2018.
4. Allow businesses a six (6) month grace period expiring June 30, 2018 to exhaust their existing stock of disposable plastic bags and polystyrene take-out boxes.
5. Implement a regulation within the Waste Management Act to implement these changes by the end of January 2018.
6. Government support for other alternatives to plastic bags such as traditional baskets.
The Government therefore advises all importers and manufacturers of the above mentioned products to take note of these dates.
Over the next few months, the Government, through the Subcommittee on National Oceans Policy Management under the Department of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Trade, will announce and implement additional measures aimed at to further reduce marine litter.
The Vanuatu Government was the first Pacific country to establish a national oceans policy to better manage our oceans and our resources for present and future generations. In addition, Vanuatu has already committed to implementing Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030, which is "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources ".