Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Adopt green habits, says minister

Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Muhammad Juanda bin Haji Abdul Rashid yesterday called for action on plastic pollution in a message to mark Earth Day 2024.

Themed ‘Planet vs Plastics’, the minister said, “Plastic is one of the inventions that has had a positive effect in revolutionising various aspects of modern life such as its use in medicine and health, transportation, nutrition and information technology.

“With its light, durable and versatile nature in providing convenience and innovation, plastic is no exception to having negative effects.

“The durability of plastic that makes it so useful also makes it nearly impossible to decompose naturally and cause pollution.

“The way plastic is produced, used and disposed of by some parties not sensitive or lacking knowledge of the importance of protecting the environment, also has a negative effect.

“According to an article by EarthDay.org, the production of plastic materials has reached over 380 million tonnes in one year and more than 500 billion plastic bags, which is one million bags in one minute, were produced worldwide last year. This means that the use of single-use plastic bags is still widespread. Of the total plastic materials produced, only 16 per cent is recycled, where most of it ends up in landfills, incineration plants or even worse – in the ocean.

“Even after the plastic wastes break down, it will remain as microplastic and every minute particle will permeate into every niche of life on the planet.

A cleaner is seen picking up rubbish at Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas. In conjunction with Earth Day, Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Muhammad Juanda bin Haji Abdul Rashid has called for action to reduce plastic pollution in the Sultanate. PHOTO: RAFI ROSLI
Gerai Ramadhan visitors with their reusable bags. PHOTO: MUIZ MATDANI

“The theme of this year’s Earth Day celebration is very much in line with the need to address the global and national issue of plastic. It is a call to all individuals to unite in ending plastic materials for the health of people and the planet.

“This year’s theme also emphasises the reduction in the production of global plastic materials to 60 per cent by year 2040 to achieve the main goal of building a plastic-free future for generations to come.

“The Earth Day 2024 celebration focuses on three goals, namely health awareness, demand change and innovative solutions.

Alhamdulillah, the Sultanate has realised the implications on the consumption of single-use plastics and has subsequently taken steps towards reducing it continuously towards reducing the generation of plastic waste and plastic pollution, in line with international best practice, which is according to the waste management hierarchy.

“We have seen an active whole-of-nation approach implemented by stakeholders from government agencies, the private sectors, non-governmental organisations and micro, small and medium enterprises in promoting initiatives towards the reduction of the use of single-use plastics and at the same time encouraging the concept of reuse.

“One of the recent examples of such collaborative efforts was the Expansion of the No Plastic Bag Everyday Initiative (NPBE+) at the Gerai Ramadhan Belia at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium this year.

Alhamdulillah, in conjunction with the Earth Day celebration, the Ministry of Development through the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation in collaboration with Big BWN Project and Zero Waste Brunei conducted the NPBE+ campaign at Gerai Ramadhan.

“The campaign aimed to encourage vendors and visitors to switch to a sustainable lifestyle for the sake of the environment and future generations. We saw many visitors bringing their own reusable bags when purchasing food and beverages. This reflects the public’s understanding and awareness of the benefits of using reusable bags compared to single-use plastic bags.

“However, there were also a few individuals who still chose to use single-use plastic carriers, causing vendors to return to providing plastic bags at their premises.

“It should be emphasised that the commitment and support of all parties including government agencies, the private sector, event management, business vendors and the public are important and need to be strengthened to ensure that each individual plays their own role in making this initiative a success while also contributing to the national efforts to achieve a sustainable environment in line with Goal 2 of Brunei Vision 2035. The country’s commitment in the international arena in dealing with plastic issues is also emphasised with the active involvement of Brunei in the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee mandated to develop a global agreement to address plastic pollution, as stipulated in resolution 5/14 dated March 2, 2022, titled, ‘End plastic pollution: towards an international legally binding instrument’ which is intended to be finalised by the end of this year.

“This shows the world’s seriousness in working together to reach a consensus and a solution for plastic problem that knows no borders.

“If observed, this ‘Planet vs Plastics’ theme is not only about protecting the environment, but also about protecting ourselves and future generations. Therefore, it is important for every level of society to instil and nurture a sense of responsibility and love for the environment as demanded in Islam.

“Start with yourself by adopting green and environmentally friendly habits. Carefully consider whether any of the plastic material is really necessary.

“Support businesses that sell or use environmentally friendly alternatives. Educate yourself and the people around you with the latest developments on pollution issues and plastic solutions.

“Insya Allah, step by step, we can all contribute positively towards the care and preservation of our planet from the effects of plastic in a comprehensive, effective and long-lasting way through a nationwide approach.”

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