Baa atoll says no to plastic bags

Wednesday, 18 February 2009 08:19

A campaign aimed at reducing and eventually eradicating the use of plastic bags was launched on Friday in Baa atoll.

The “Say no to plastic bags” campaign, run by Kendhoo Club, an island association on Kendhoo, and Sonevaa Fushi resort, will be distributing cloth bags to each household in the atoll to encourage people to stop using plastic bags.

“We initiated this programme, because we see plastic bags everywhere,” said Ibrahim Abdul Rahman, president of Kendhoo Club. “They’re in the lagoon, on the beach, on the corals, damaging our environment.”

Plastic bags are not biodegradable and take 10 to 20 years to disintegrate. With no proper waste management facility in the islands, plastic bags have been found littered on the beaches and in lagoons; they are known to destroy live coral and adversely affect the marine life in Maldives.

Awareness programmes

The programme is being piloted in Kendhoo and will be introduced to rest of the atoll after a three-month trial period, said Ibrahim.

In addition to holding information sessions, he added, the campaign organisers had requested leaflets from the Environment Research Centre, outlining the detrimental effects of plastic bags.

“On average, shops give away around 50 bags; our target is to reduce this number to five.” According to Ibrahim, businessmen have proved the hardest to convince but the organisers were currently in discussions with them.

“We even plan to give cloth bags to shops and we are asking them to charge for plastic bags to discourage consumers. We have been getting support because shopkeepers are now advising customers to avoid taking plastic bags when they buy small items.”

Ibrahim added locals would support the campaign once they became used the idea as “they do know that plastic bags are bad for environment”.

“Responsibility and passion”

The cloth bags have been donated by Sonevaa Fushi, a resort renowned for its environmental work.

Commenting on their decision to become involved in the campaign, Mussab Aneez, the social and environmental manager at the resort, said, “Doing this is our responsibility and our passion.”

He said the aim was to enlarge the campaign to include the 12 other islands in Baa atoll this year, before covering the whole of the Maldives.

Although he said he did not want to give the information about the campaign’s budget, Aneez said the resort would be covering all costs.

“It’s part of our Corporate Social Responsibility scheme. The initial 200 bags were imported but we are now producing 3,000 bags. As part of our community initiative we are hiring small businesses run by women to make these bags.”

A welcome move

Bluepeace director Ali Rilwan has said he welcomes the move which will encourage a shift in cultural attitudes and make people more environmentally conscious.

But, he added, the scheme needed to be carried out at a national level and comprehensive laws established to address the issue. “There needs to be tax exemption for biodegradable items; even cloth bags are taxed now.”

Further, although plastic bags had higher taxes, said Rilwan, cloth bags were still more expensive so the “deterrent effect” of taxing plastic bags was “negligible”.

“If every resort had corporate social responsibility schemes like Sonevaa Fushi and sponsored an island, it could have a major impact,” he said. “At the start it was plastic bags, but now plastic water bottles are an even bigger issue which also needs to be tackled soon.”



Max said...

Plastic bottles are a growing problem in our landfills and oceans. We felt that something needed to be done……and now.

We knew that there wasn’t going to be one “fix it all” answer and began to wonder if anything was ever going to be done. The problem was growing every day, more bottles were being manufactured and more bottles were accumulating in places where we didn’t need them.

We were wondering if “Earth Friendly Bottles” would ever be available?

That’s why decided to do our part and started ENSO Bottles. We are partnering with other companies to offer a PET plastic bottle that will biodegrade, compost or recycle.

ENSO’s goal is to achieve sustainability with our plastic bottles. WE feel that ENSO plastic bottles can provide a useful service and have a positive impact on our environment.

We all need to do our part and support recycling programs, construction of bio-reactor landfills and continue developing technology that will make plastics “Earth Friendly.”
We’re doing those things at ENSO, we offer a plastic bottle that is earth’s just one step in the right direction. If we all take just one step toward improving our planet….we will make a difference.


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