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The World Environment Day 2018 carried the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. This is a call for all levels of society to act together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of today – plastic pollution. This theme also invites us all to consider and change our lifestyle towards reducing the burden of plastic pollution in our country, especially for ‘single use plastics’. The official slogan “If you can’t reuse it, refuse it” allows us to re-think and re-consider our decisions prior to buying or accepting something - is it reusable?

Undoubtedly, plastic materials or products have many uses in our daily lives. Perhaps we do not realize just how much of ‘single use plastics’ or these disposable plastic products have we been using as a whole.

According to statistics released by the United Nations, it was found that 1 million bottles of plastic beverages are purchased every sixty (60) seconds worldwide. That’s just for a minute, imagine how many plastic bottles there are for a year - over 0.5 billion bottles, of which only 1 in 5 plastic bottles is recycled. Globally, 5 trillion disposable plastic bags are produced, which will eventually end up in landfills as well. Since not all of this plastic wastes can be recycled, the waste will be collected and buried in landfills and will take thousands of years to biodegrade. This is one of the causes of soil pollution and if not addressed appropriately will lead to water pollution, either ground water or surface water (‘surface water’).

On average, as much as 13 million tons of plastic waste enters our water systems around the world, resulting in water pollution from drains, rivers and the sea, leading to flooding. This is a threat not only to marine life such as coral reefs but also to birds and other animals that ingest plastic waste. Plastic materials contain several chemicals that are mostly toxic, including microplastics. It also serves as a ‘magnet’ to other pollutants including dioxins, metals and pesticides which will pose further danger to the environment, wildlife and even to us. Based on the on-going Brunei River Cleanup Project, the main bulk of waste collected over the years were plastic bottles, which was also one of the main reasons why this initiative was developed.

Realizing that plastic bottles are also major contributors of plastic waste, the “Plastic Bottle Free Initiative” was launched on the 5th June 2018 in conjunction with World Environment Day 2018 celebration. As the Ministry responsible for the environment, the Ministry of Development adopted the “Lead through example” approach and declared commitment to implement this initiative by practicing green and sustainable habit(s) towards the intention of becoming the first Plastic Bottle Free Ministry, before rolling it out and expanding its coverage to the rest of the Ministries and eventually the general public.

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Prepared by: Department of Enviroment, Parks and Recreation

Published Date: 2019