Timor prepares decree to halt single-use plastic imports

The East Timorese Government is preparing regulations to control single-use plastic with a special 30% charge on these products, strengthening waste control in the capital, told the Secretary of State for the Environment.

In the future, anyone who imports single-use plastic, including plastic bags, needs to have a special license. And we will apply an additional cost, a recycling rate, of about 30% on the value of these imported products,” said Demétrio de Amaral de Oak.

The Secretary of State explained that this is one of several measures that are being taken to address various environmental problems, especially the control of plastic and other waste in Timor-Leste.

Lack of environmental education, bad habits in the treatment of garbage and poor drainage systems contribute to the problem that has been growing exponentially with economic development and increasing imports.

Timor-Leste does not produce plastic, but supermarkets and shops are full of products that use plastic, which adds up to tons of bottles of water sold daily in the city.

It is common to see shop owners or restaurants throwing waste in irrigation canals or streams.

Although there are more and more garbage bins – they are still insufficient – in the places where they exist, citizens in most cases choose to throw garbage on the floor next to the containers, which later – especially now in the rainy season – is dragged into the sea.

Garbage brigades used to collect garbage accumulated over several days, clearing beaches, streets and neighbourhoods where, in some cases, there had been no collection in the last two weeks.

Zones of large garbage production – such as the Taibessi market in the centre of the city – accumulated several tons of garbage this week, leaving a nauseating smell throughout the area.

The Secretary of State explained that, for these reasons, the Government wants to reinforce the implementation of the 2008 regulation on pollution control and waste management, in an attempt “to encourage society to take more care and manage its waste. best form“.

This decree-law of “hygiene and public order” already foresees fines of between five and 500 US dollars for those who pollute, which increase to double in case of companies,

Demétrio de Carvalho told on the sidelines of the launch by Kmanek supermarket group of ecological bags made from cassava, an alternative invented in Bali, Indonesia, which are non-toxic, natural and dissolve in water without any damage to the environment.

About 20% of all the garbage we collect in Dili is plastic,” he explained.

This intervention will at least contribute to raising awareness about the danger of using single-use plastic. Plastic bags are one of the items that most pollute our environment and this intervention helps to reduce the amount of plastic in the trash,” he said.

Clarence Lim, head of the Kmanek group, told that it is the company’s latest move to promote better environmental management.

We decided to do this as a contribution to Timorese society, people buy things here at the supermarket and when I give them a plastic bag I’m giving them something toxic, poisonous, and I do not want to,” he said.

This alternative costs two or three times more, but we’re talking about a very low figure yet. And I think what they carry in the bag justifies that we spend that value more. It’s a way of avoiding junk,” he said.

Several other initiatives, from Government, the private sector and non-governmental organizations, are currently being undertaken in Timor-Leste to address the problem.

Plastic is one of the biggest environmental problems in Southeast Asia, with the oceans in the region experiencing high levels of pollution from this type of waste, which continues to increase significantly.

Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia are among the biggest plastic polluters in the world.

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