Let us all join hands to wage war against plastic pollution. Every action that we can do as an individual to take charge of protecting the environment is important. We also need to realise the severity of plastic usage in daily life and therefore use plastic judiciously.

This appeal was made this morning by the Acting President of the Republic, Mr Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, at the launching of activities in the context of the World Environment Day 2018 held at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute in Moka. The Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr Etienne Sinatambou, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative, Mrs Christine Umutoni, as well as other eminent personalities were present.

Mr Vyapoory recalled how each year more than eight million tons of plastic end up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and costing at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. Up to 80 per cent of all litter in our oceans is made of plastic, he added.

In view of the severity of the situation, the Acting President appealed to the population to protect the environment for future generations. He underlined that it is necessary to adopt more sustainable ways of living so as to reverse the trend and to change our mindset and way of life. The whole world, he stated, is in the grips of climate change, and it is imperative to change our existing behaviours relating to the use of plastics.

For his part, the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr Etienne Sinatambou, further urged every individual to make simple changes in their lifestyle to reduce excessive use of plastic. He added that together we can build a healthier and more sustainable future if we reduce the use of plastic and rethink our consumption patterns.

He highlighted that with plastic making up ten per cent of the total waste generated, half of it is disposable or single-use. This presents a major problem as it is non-renewable and its manufacture and destruction exposes individuals and environment to many toxins, including carcinogens, he added.

Referring to statistics from the United Nations, Minister Sinatambou pointed out that at the rate items such as plastic bottles, bags and cups are being dumped after a single use, by 2050 oceans will carry more plastic than fish and an estimated 99 per cent of seabirds will have ingested plastic. Plastic waste is a risk to public health as it enters our food chain, creates congestion problems in drains, causing flooding, ends up in river beds and oceans, depleting ecosystems and marine biodiversity, and makes solid waste management more expensive as landfills and open incineration do not provide an acceptable solution for disposal, he said.

Mr Sinatambou stated that Government is determined to encourage the population to develop healthier consumption behaviours and to reduce use of plastics. The introduction of regulations to ban the sale and use of plastics is one such example stated the Environment Minister while appealing to everyone to make a pledge to make Mauritius cleaner, greener, better and safer.

Activities

To mark World Environment Day 2018, the eco-bin project was launched today through the donation of eco-bins to 57 Social Welfare Centres and 12 Local Authorities for plastic bottles collection. The general public, including the school community, will be encouraged to deposit the plastic bottles from their home at the nearest collection point. The plastic bottles will, thereafter, be sent to plastic recyclers.

A prize giving ceremony was also held to reward winners of the painting competition launched last year on the World Environment Day. Posters and pamphlets on the negative impacts of plastic on the environment were also launched.

Other activities which will be organised include: an exhibition on 7 and 8 June 2018 at the City Council of Port Louis to sensitise the public on the impacts of plastic inland and at sea. Private companies as well as non-governmental organisations will be invited to participate in the exhibition through the display of eco-friendly alternatives; a strengthened enforcement for one week from 4 to 16 June 2018 by officers of the Department of Environment and Police de L'Environnement as well as by officers of the Municipal and District councils. This operation will consist of tracking illegal distribution of plastic carry-bags at places such as markets and sales outlets around the island.

Furthermore, a one-day cleaning of the beach and lagoon at the Flic-en-Flac public beach will be organised in collaboration with the District council, National Coast Guard and NGOs.

World Environment Day 2018

World Environment Day is a call for awakening of individuals to take charge of protecting their environment and to realise the severity of plastic usage in daily life. Under the theme Beat Plastic Pollution, World Environment Day 2018 is issuing a call to action to individuals, governments, the public and the private sector to examine joint solutions to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife and our own health.

Source: Government of Mauritius