The grant was handed by New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga Tiffany Babington to the Chief Executive Officer of MEIDECC, Paula Ma’u today.
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, Her Excellency has been funding this 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 pick ups 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.” High Commissioner Babington 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,” said Ma’u.
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.