Plastic-ban announcement was an April Fools’ Day ruse

Volunteers sort out plastic items from thousands of pounds of garbage collected in beach cleanups across Grand Cayman last October.

Hundreds of Cayman residents woke up to big news Monday morning, with the announcement on Plastic Free Cayman’s Facebook page that government banned single-use plastic items for import and resale.

“Items include polystyrene (styrofoam) take away containers, clear PPE clamshell take away containers, all types of plastic cutlery, plastic straws and plastic bags,” Plastic Free Cayman posted around 6 a.m. “Not included in the bill at this time are plastic beverage bottles but considerations are being made about future amendments. An exhaustive list of items and the timeline for phasing out are forthcoming.”

However, that announcement was an April Fools’ Day hoax.

Some people were duped by the ruse. As of 2 p.m. on Monday, the post had 544 likes, 73 comments, and 193 shares. The fake news was also being discussed on at least one radio show and other social media platforms.

“This is a great decision!” commented Renita Ebanks. “[It] has to start somewhere.”

Others were offended at the attempt of humour.

“Whoever told you this was a good idea has done you a disservice,” Adam Cummins wrote to Plastic Free Cayman. “This is no laughing matter and to use your voice in this way hurts your authority and credibility.”

Around noon, Plastic Free Cayman posted another announcement, clarifying that its earlier post was indeed an April Fools’ Day joke.

“Seriously though, this is no laughing matter,” the later post stated. “Despite Cayman’s reputation of affluence and sophistication, we lag behind no less than 15 neighbouring nations in legislation banning the scourge of single-use plastics.”

Department of Environment officials were asked about the fake news at a press conference Monday, and declined to comment on the post itself.

“I think that’s for them to comment on,” said department education officer Brent Fuller.

Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie did, however, say that government is reviewing the issue.

“I think government is trying to take the plastic issue on board,” she said. “I don’t know where specifically the discussions are or how quickly we can see a reaction from government, but the ministry definitely has this matter under review right now.”