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Anti-Litter Campaigns More Than Picking Up Plastics, Rubbish

Littering is a big problem for Fiji as it not only causes pollution but also causes health problems.

We have been talking about anti-litter campaigns for several years. The campaigns ran hot and cold.

We carried out clean-up exercises. Organised groups took to the parks, beaches and seaside to pick plastics and non-biodegradable items.

But the plastics and rubbish kept reappearing at a monotonous rate that you begin to think whether all these efforts were going to waste. Littering carried on unabated. This was because the anti-litter laws were ineffective without enforcement officers.

The Ministry of Environment and Ministry of iTaukei Affairs got together and decided to do something about it. On Monday 14 Provincial Conservation Officers were appointed Litter Prevention Officers and trained at the Peninsula Hotel in Suva

These officers are from the iTaukei Affairs Board (TAB) Conservation Unit.

TAB hopes that this training will help them as Litter Prevention Officers fully appreciate and understand their role, and what they can and need to do to support Government’s effort, in the protection of Fiji’s natural environment which is located within our 14 provinces Let us all be aware of the fact that littering is the result mostly individual behaviour choosing to be careless in the handling of waste.

Littering is a big problem for Fiji as it not only causes pollution but also causes health problems.

The one-day training was timely as it had come at a time when waste issues have been at the heart of discussions at all levels, and in all sectors of the Fijian government including the private sector.

A similar training was already conducted for the Central Division on March 4, 2019, for the public officers of the division and seven of the officers from Serua, Namosi and Tailevu Provincial Councils were present and had already been appointed Litter Prevention Officers.

Separate training will also be conducted for Vanua Levu and the Western Division and the Board will ensure that other officers in the field are also part of the training. Preventing litter makes good sense for businesses and communities. Research has found that litter can be bad for business, tourism, health and wellbeing as well as the environment. By maintaining clean, litter-free premises and by taking actions to help to change behaviours of staff, customers, clients and volunteers, you can positively influence your local community and the image of your organisation. Changing a common behaviour, like littering, starts with you. Each person must accept responsibility for their actions and influence the actions of others around them at home, at school, in your place of business, and in the community at large.  Preventing litter is still the best way to keep our roads, sidewalks, parks, yards clean. Unfortunately, while the litterbugs among us continue to leave debris in their wake, we’ll need to pitch in the help keep our environment beautiful. We need to stop litter being dropped in the first place, and we need to make sure that litter that is dropped gets picked up.

The importance of reducing litter should not be underestimated. Litter can have a fundamental impact on the quality of life experienced in communities and there are also wider economic, social and environmental costs that cannot be ignored. Be reminded that the Litter Act 2008 prescribes penalties for littering for various offences and includes littering from a vehicle, failing to safeguard traffic and remove litter and abandoning dangerous litter. Remember we can all be Litter Prevention Officers in where we live.

Feedback:  maika.bolatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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