The importation of non-biodegradable consumer goods is becoming a mounting burden for the economy, human health and the environment of the Cook Islands.  This burden is evidenced by the growing amount of non-biodegradable waste increasing at the waste facility and illegal dumpsites – along roadsides and in streams – being washed into waterways.

As part of progressing steps to preventing waste accumulation, Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) as focal point for the Cook Islands Solid Waste Management Committee submitted a policy proposing to ban the importation of a suite of single use plastic products to Cabinet. Cabinet approved the Policy on the 9th of April 2019. Primarily, the policy targeted single use polystyrene packaging, but has since been added to to incorporate other single use products.

Items included in this policy include:

–        Lightweight plastic bags including shopping bags
–        Plastic straws and cocktail stirrers
–        Plastic cutlery
–        Plastic containers with no PET number or with numbers 3, 4, 5, and              7, including plastic plates and sealable food containers
–        Plastic and polystyrene cups, including plastic-lined coffee cups
–        Polystyrene containers and meat trays
–        Single-portion breakfast spreads
–        Products containing microbeads

The list of banned products will form a Schedule in the Solid and Hazardous Waste Bill that will be submitted during 2022.

Do your part, refuse single use plastics.


  • By doing your part and refusing single use plastics, you are decreasing the amount of waste that could potentially end up in our waterways and be harmful to our marine life.
  • By doing your part you are being a contributor to the ripple effect of changing mindsets towards being more environmentally conscious.
  • By doing your part you are teaching your children to be forward thinking and to purchase and consume sustainably.

Reduce the amount of plastic bags used by reusing them. It's that simple.

The first and best option for reducing plastic waste is to minimize single-use plastics in your daily life. Actions you can take include:

  • Reduce your use of disposable shopping bags by using a reusable bag or container when shopping.
  • Reuse old plastic bags for multiple shopping trips.
  • Re-purpose plastic bags as bin liners.
  • Refuse a bag for easy-to-carry purchases.
  • Buy products in bulk.

Many grocery stores offer durable, washable bags to customers at an affordable price. Using these bags on a regular basis can create less waste than paper or plastic, and washing them regularly removes dirt and germs.

Business Venture: Local Upcycled Fashion Earrings.

Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products perceived to be of greater quality by adding artistic or environmental value. The artist behind Akaora, Rebecca Te-Au Jim, created the jewellery line to repurpose plastic materials that would otherwise be considered trash. Akaora, which means to revive, restore and renew has brought new life to waste material by producing feathered plastic earrings for all occasions.

As one of few upcycle businesses in the Cook Islands, Akaora has helped inspire people to contribute to the community in this way.

Plastic bags can be reused, so be creative - the only limitation is you.

More and more people say they reuse their plastic bags at least once. From lining their bins, to using again for shopping bags.

What are your favorite ways to reuse plastic bags? 

Want to know more information?

Here are some useful links that you can check out to help you understand more about plastics.  The information on What is Single Use Plastics and why we should ban single use plastics is on NRDC’s website.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) was founded in 1970 by a group of law students and attorneys at the forefront of the environmental movement. In the last 50 years, they have fought and continue to fight for every person’s right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy community. Click here for more information.