Vanuatu will ban disposable nappies and single-use plastic from 1 December 2019.
Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu announced the ban at a conference in Port Vila this week. It follows research which categorised and recorded the rubbish produced on the island nation.
The ban will cover plastic cutlery, polystyrene cups, plastic drinks stirrers and some types of food packaging. Mr Regenvanu said nappies were the largest single item of waste in Vanuatu’s capital.
What’s wrong with nappies?
Disposable nappies are lined with non-biodegradable plastic and use the chemical sodium polyacrylate as an absorbent. They do not break down in landfill. The human waste remains untreated and can leach harmful chemicals and bacteria into the environment.
At least 450 billion nappies are disposed into landfill annually worldwide, according to environmental group Worldwatch Institute.
In Australia, the environmental group Boomerang Alliance has calculated families use 3.75 million nappies every day.
I’m travelling with a baby… what do I do?
If you are travelling with a baby to Vanuatu, we suggest you look into reusable nappies. You will not be able to buy nappies on the islands once the law is passed. Check with your hotel to see if they will have a laundry service. Otherwise, you may need to bring laundry liquid to wash them in the bathroom yourself.