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Nuku’alofa – June 22, 2021: 2.40pm (Nuku’alofa Times): Work on a ‘single use plastic’ policy here in Tonga has received a boost with a $30,000 pa’anga grant contribution from the New Zealand government.

The New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga Tiffany Babington handed over a Grant Contribution of TOP$30,000 to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) Paula Ma’u to develop a Roadmap to phase out single use plastics in Tonga.

Besides organic waste, plastic is the second largest waste component in Tonga.  Although the Government of Tonga approved a ban on and the phasing out of single-use plastics in 2019, there is not yet any policy, plan or legislation in place to ensure the phase out commences.

Since the launch of the “No Pelesitiki Campaign” in Tonga in 2018, New Zealand has been funding the project up to TOP$49,000, and since then the campaign has grown and engaged an increasing number of stakeholders. Activities have included: awareness raising through outreach talanoa sessions, through to Lalanga ‘oa; the making of local disposal bags, the production of reusable shopping bags, and monthly rubbish pickups which many groups have now joined.

“Plastic bags and other plastics such as plastic containers and bottles don’t just disappear when we dispose of them. They break up in micro-plastics and end up in our waterways and oceans where they harm sea and bird life and enter our food chains. We are the generation who has created this plastic waste and we have a responsibility to our youth and future generations to phase out and ban its single use,” Her Excellency said.

To further progress the ‘No Pelesitiki Campaign’ and support the Government of Tonga, Her Excellency offered a grant to MEIDECC’s Department of Environment, solely focused on developing and implementing a single use plastics ban policy and roadmap for the Government and people of Tonga.

“The financial assistance through New Zealand has been timely in order to commence implementation of the Cabinet decision by developing a roadmap to phasing out of single use plastics.  This Roadmap will be developed by relevant stakeholders, representatives from the private sector, government, non-government and communities to pave the way on how Tonga will phase out single use plastics,” CEO Paula Ma’u said.

The New Zealand High Commission Fund – Tonga (the Fund) supports small scale, short-term community projects that contribute to wider community development and well-being.

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