Pacific besieged with waves of plastic pollution, warns researcher-Xinhua

Pacific besieged with waves of plastic pollution, warns researcher

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-08-17 10:18:45

SYDNEY, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Pacific nations are being forced to deal with piles of plastic pollution discarded from other parts of the world, according to an Australian researcher.

In a report published in the Journal of Political Ecology and revealed on Tuesday, University of Newcastle environmental anthropologist Dr. Sascha Fuller said the Pacific islands, which only created about 1.3 percent of the world's waste plastics, were "on the frontline" for battling the growing tide of pollution.

"Plastic waste is coming into the region through trade, tourism, the fishing industry and marine litter which flows in on ocean currents and from shipping lanes," Fuller said.

With limited waste management facilities, the island nations struggle to eliminate single-use plastics while marine litter often washes up on beaches and endangers wildlife and water ecosystems.

The report noted the environmental crisis had soared throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to the rise of single-use plastics in medical waste, personal protection equipment and online-shopping package materials.

Fuller said the "waste colonization" crisis was being exacerbated by Pacific Islanders having been largely excluded from relevant global discussions despite their traditional expertise in having "managed and protected their ocean for thousands of years."

"If we're going to meaningfully address pollution, then indigenous traditional knowledge must be part of the solution," she said.

Fuller gave examples of natural alternatives to plastic bags, such as handwoven string bags called bilum, which are common in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, and baskets woven from banana and coconut fronds which are used for carrying food in Samoa.

Fuller noted that a United Nations (UN) resolution designed to drastically curb plastic pollution was expected to be enacted by 2024.

She said the UN wanted to introduce a "lifecycle approach" to the production of plastics, which would see its manufacturers held more accountable for how its discarded waste was ultimately handled.

"While countries in the Pacific region need to strengthen their legislation around plastics, that is not the main issue here," Fuller said.

"The issue of critical importance is what the rest of the world is doing - or not doing."