A new initiative, the ANZPAC Plastics Pact (ANZPAC) was introduced to businesses during an event on Wednesday night hosted by the British High Commission in Port Vila and the Vanuatu Environmental Science Society and attended by members of government, the diplomatic corps and NGOs as well as the business sector. The information evening was delivered in partnership with the ANZPAC Plastics Pact Team from the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and UK Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
It is well known that plastics are causing a significant problem in our world, particularly our oceans. Too much plastic waste ends up in landfill or leaking into our natural environment. Our region is not immune to this problem. Currently, in Vanuatu, no plastic is being recycled and we see plastic packaging on our streets and on our waters every day. In the Pacific Islands it is estimated over 300,000 tonnes of waste plastic is generated each year.
The Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands Plastics Pact, or ANZPAC for short is a collaborative solution that brings together key players in the region behind a shared vision of a circular economy for plastic, where plastic never becomes waste or pollution. Together through shared knowledge, investment and industry led innovation solutions will be implemented tailored to our local context. ANZPAC is a collaboration of businesses acting together to address the plastics packaging problem, supported by goverenments, acedemia and NGOs. It is aiming to changing the paradigm from the linear produce, use,dispose model to a circular ecomony where plastics have value and are not simply wasted after one use.
In her welcome remarks, British High Commissioner Karen Bell praised the leadership Vanuatu had already shown in reducing and re-using plastic waste through government and private sector led initiatives. But local action could only be part of the solution. The UK had been pleased to support development of a national plastics strategy for Vanuatu which had highlighted the need for all parts of the supply chain to work together. Mrs. Bell welcomed the ANZPAC Plastics Pact initiative as a means to bring together manufacturers and suppliers in Australia and New Zealand with their customers in Vanuatu to eliminate plastic waste, create economic opportunity and protect our environment.
Dr. Christina Shaw, from the Vanuatu Environmental Science Society, who is engaged as a champion for the pact in Vanuatu, said “I think one of the biggests benefits, I can see for businesses here in Vanautu is the access to the depth of expertise and knowledge that being a member can bring. We can be part of the innovation rather than trying to catch up as bigger businesses overseas, with much larger resources, adapt.” Christina said she was very pleased to see so many people come to the information evening and that it showed the momentum, generated from the plastic bans, had not waned and that there is still an appetite to find a solution to the plastic problem amongst the business community of Port Vila.