Although the ban was imposed in the middle of last week, penalties don't apply until next month.
Wenceslaus Magun, from environment group Mas Kagin Tapani Association of PNG, says the buai ban has already seen people put a stop to the practise of chewing and spitting in public places.
Presenter: Richard Ewart
Speaker: Wenceslaus Magun, from the environment group Mas Kagin Tapani Association of PNG
EWART: So I take it therefore that the ban essentially people have taken to the ban, they're happy to go along with what they're being asked to do?
MAGUN: Yes, it's about time, because NCD dwellers have lost, they have lost commitment in taking ownership of NCD as their home. So buai ban has helped corrected their wrong way of doing things, everything, a way of practicing in chewing and spitting of buai in public places. So this ban has really helped correct the bad practice of buai consumers and buai sellers in NCD. We promote healthy living, we promote living a healthy, friendly and active lifestyle, but certain attitudes that we need and condone are not good, so when you impose such laws, because people have failed to take ownership and responsibility of their own lives, then such laws like this will help educate and correct the practices that people condone and think that it is the right way of doing things. So laws like this help to correct peoples attitudes and mindset. It not only helps people to live better, healthier and happier lives, but it also helps protect our environment and people tend to neglect their responsibility to look after the environment.
EWART: Can I ask you Wenceslaus, the penalties which I understand will apply for people who ignore the ban - they don't actually come into action until next month, so there is as it were a grace period for people to get used to the idea of this ban. So you must be encouraged, that it seems that people don't need the threat of penalties necessarily to go along with this?
MAGUN: No. Penalties are meant to discipline people and these people by whom are going into the next step of being penalised and if they are penalised, then it only goes to educate them to think and live a life that are, decent lives. Penalties are not meant to punish people. It's only to correct their bad habits and if people can they take ownership, take responsibility and start to manage their way of chewing betel nut and disposing their rubbish, I don't think they will go to the next level of being penalised.
EWART: Now, your Association also wants to see plastic shopping bags banned. Is that the next thing you intend to tackle and in light of what has happened in the betelnut ban, how encouraged are you that you can achieve that as well?
MAGUN: Well, we advocate for the protection and restoration of the critically endangered leather-backed turtles and we see that plastics are a major threat to the turtles. That is why we have called on NCD governor has indicated his next step is to ban plastics in NCD and also we commend the governor for Madang, who is also intending to establish a law in Madang to ban plastics. We call on other governors in the country to take a similar actions, because plastics are not, a menace to the environment, they're also a threat to our land and to our sea, and they destroy the ecology of our land and ecology of our sea as well. So we are calling on not just the governor for NCD and the governor for Madang to i mpose such ban, but we're also calling on the International Union for Conservation and the United Nations to come up with a law that should actually totally ban plastic manufacturing in the world.
EWART: Now, you're actually thinking pretty big on this. You're not just focusing on how you can change things in Papua New Guinea. You think that what you're doing in Papua New Guinea can have an influence beyond the Papua New Guinea shores?
MAGUN: Of course. Because the main producers and manufacturers and sellers of plastics are industrialised nations. So we have to target those industrialised nations, those manufacturers of plastics and echo our concerns to them, and we have to echo our concerns to international bodies who can legislate, make laws that will restrict the production and selling of plastics in the world, because if you go to the wholesalers now, you find that plastics also can become dumping grounds for anything and everything, including marine-killing waste and plastics have become islands, floating islands in the ocean and they are a great threat, not just to the turtles, but to whales and other marine systems, marine ecological systems, including the reefs. So if we are to take effective measures to control our waste of plastics being banned, being dumped into the ocean, then we must go straight to the producers and that producers are manufacturers of plastics in industrialised nation.
EWART: It's a big job that you're taking on. What sort of landmarks have you set for yourself along the way. What's the first thing you think that you need to achieve?
MAGUN: The first thing is calling on local, effecting local access to address international core issue and taking local actions is like we've been advocating on this issue at the community level. We've encouraged communities to establish conservation deeds or agreements where each community, each clan within each community comes up with laws and penalties to protect the environment and to save and increase the population of the critically-endangered turtles. One of the threats that they have identified as part of a long list of issues is not to throw rubbish into the ocean, including plastics. So at the local level, we've already started this advocation program. We are now going one step higher and that is to take it to the provincial level and to take it to the national level and take it to the international level and by talking to you on this program, I'm sure listeners of this program will take heed of these steps, particularly those at a level where they can make laws. I appeal to them to take this message very seriously and to address it.