The Catholic Church campaigns to stop plastic pollution

The Catholic Church’s campaign aims to “protect humanity from self-destruction” while ensuring intra- and intergenerational justice for current and future generations.

Archbishop John Wong presses the button and officially launches the PROTEC campaign.
Photo: Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish KK FB

The Catholic Church in Malaysia has launched a year-long Protect Our Earth, Protect Our Children (PROTEC) campaign to protect the environment in the country.

Bishop Joseph Hii Teck Kwong of Sibu launched the ‘Stop Plastic Pollution’ campaign

PROTEC is a five-year campaign inspired by Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, Laudato Si.

The campaign aims to “protect humanity from self-destruction” while ensuring intra- and inter-generational justice for current and future generations. It takes place over five years, from 2020 to 2025, with a different theme each year.

The current PROTEC campaign will run from September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2023.

Malaysian Catholic Bishops support this campaign, which focuses on different themes each year.

The Catholic Church campaigns to stop plastic pollution
Malaysia’s nine dioceses with their banners during the entrance procession for the Mass to launch PROTEC Year 3 and Season of Creation 2022 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Kota Kinabalu on August 31. Photo: Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish KK FB

Bishop Hii, chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Creation Justice, called on Catholics to shun selfishness and connect more with the environment during the inaugural event at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu.

The prelate said Catholics need ‘the Spirit of the Lord to give us a heart of flesh to replace our heart of stone, leading us away from’ego at eco,’ to be interconnected with all of Creation and to listen to the voice of Creation.

Moreover, the Prelate also reminded the faithful of the God-given privilege “to participate in God’s creation as a collaborator.”

The church has also launched Season of Creation 2022 to mark the Global Day of Prayer for Creation which runs from September 1 to October 4 this year.

This year’s theme is “Listen to the voice of creation”.

The Catholic Church campaigns to stop plastic pollution
Celebrants join the congregation to watch the video presentation ahead of the mass layoff.
Photo: Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish KK FB

The Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu and the Dioceses of Keningau and Sandakan are jointly coordinating the campaign across the country.

The themes for Year 1 and Year 2 were “Use Less Electricity” and “Reduce Meat, Dairy and Food Waste”, respectively.

Various dignitaries and activists attended the inaugural event.

A World Wildlife Fund report published in 2020 states that Malaysia has the highest recorded annual per capita plastic consumption at 16.78 kg compared to other Southeast Asian countries such as India. Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The report states that plastic is the second highest waste generated in the country, with a low recycling rate of 20%.

In 2021, the Ministry of Environment and Water (KASA) launched the Malaysian Plastics Sustainability Roadmap, 2021-2030, which comprehensively governs the production, consumption, recycling and management plastic waste.

This roadmap demonstrates the department’s initiative to transition the plastics economy to a circular economy and provide new ways to mitigate emerging risks to enable the plastics industry to innovate.

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