Short speech by Sharon Dijksma, Minister for the Environment, on the Bye Bye Plastic Bags project during her visit to Green School Bali

‘It’s crucial to raise people’s awareness and teach everyone about the environment.
That’s where the solution starts. Also for a problem like too much waste.
We need to change our throwaway mentality. We need to raise awareness – in companies, shops and schools. That’s why I’m so impressed by the Green School’s project Bye Bye Plastic Bags’. That said Environment Minister Sharon Dijksma during her visit to the Bali Green School on 24 november. Pupils of this school started a project – ‘Bye Bye Plastic Bags’ – to contribute to the prevention of plastic waste on Bali.

Mr Governor, Mrs Medema, girls and boys,

It’s great to be here.
It’s great to talk to young people about the issues they’re interested in.
And to hear their solutions.

As you probably know, a historic climate agreement was signed in Paris last year, by nearly 200 countries.
I was very proud and very happy.
Because in Paris we agreed to stop global warming.
To do that, we need cleaner factories and cars.
We need to save more energy and use more clean energy, like solar power and wind energy.

We need to use resources more efficiently, and produce less waste.
Because waste is bad for our environment and for our economy.
Plastic waste is a massive problem.
Birds eat plastic by mistake and die.
And the plastic in our oceans kills fish.

In my country − the Netherlands – we banned free plastic bags nearly a year ago.
Now there are far fewer plastic bags littering our streets.
Perhaps you know that the Dutch don’t like to spend money.
They think twice if they have to pay for something.
So charging them for plastic bags makes them more aware of the problem.

In the Netherlands, we also want to collect more plastic waste.
Because it’s a good raw material for many new products.
From the plastic we collect we make football shirts, tennis balls and new plastic bottles.

Girls and boys,
Big problems like global warming and waste can’t be solved by countries alone.
We need companies, local authorities and people – from all ages and walks of life – to help us.

So initiatives by young people like you are very important.
It’s crucial to raise people’s awareness and teach everyone about the environment.
That’s where the solution starts.
Also for a problem like too much waste.
We need to change our throwaway mentality.
We need to raise awareness – in companies, shops and schools.

That’s why I’m so impressed by the Green School’s project Bye Bye Plastic Bags.
You’re on a mission to clear plastic bags on the streets, and in the rivers, bays and seas.

I think Bye Bye Plastic Bags is a wonderful project.
Especially since it was set up by young people.
Young people who see a problem and come up with a creative solution to it.
That’s what I like!
It makes me think of the young Dutchman, Boyan Slat.
A few years ago he saw enormous piles of plastic floating in the ocean.
Plastic soup.

It now covers massive areas of our seas and oceans.
Instead of despairing, Boyan thought, ‘I’ll find a way to solve this problem’.
Now he’s a world famous entrepreneur, and he’s testing his invention – floating barriers that work like scoops – in the North Sea.

Young people like you and Boyan are a source of inspiration to me and to young people all over the world.
You show us that nothing is easy.
But that anything is possible, if you have the right motivation, passion and drive.

And now I’m looking forward to hearing more about your ideas and initiatives.

Thank you.