Government considering single-use plastics ban

A hermit crab using plastic trash as a shell was found at a beach cleanup last summer. - Photo: Jennifer Moseley

Government has set up a committee to consider whether to ban single-use plastics.

Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour made the commitment in a written response to a parliamentary question posed by George Town legislator Kenneth Bryan.

Seymour said his ministry was given Cabinet approval on 9 July to “develop a policy towards reducing the human health and the environmental harms of single-use plastics in the Cayman Islands”.

He made no direct commitment to an outright ban on single-use plastics – something environmental groups have called for.

Bryan welcomed the response and said he would seek to hold government accountable to make Cayman plastic free.

Linda Clark, of Plastic Free Cayman, one of the groups that has campaigned for a ban on single-use plastics, said the minister’s comments were encouraging.

“I am delighted to hear that some progress is being made on acknowledging and implementing solutions to the seriousness of plastic pollution to our health and environment, which of course in Cayman drives the success of our tourism economy.”

Seymour said a steering committee involving government officials, businesses, distributors and grocers, environmental groups and a youth parliament representative, chaired by himself and Planning Minister Joey Hew, would consider the extent and validity of the concerns about single-use plastics.

The committee will seek public input over a 90‑day period and develop a policy “to mitigate human health and environmental harms of single-use plastics”, and examine the need for any changes to legislation. A report will be submitted to Cabinet for a decision, Seymour wrote.

Bryan posed the question at the last LA session last month and received his written answer last week.

He welcomed the response and urged government to get on with it.

“I am hoping government will follow through with a commitment to try to get Cayman as plastic free as possible.

“It is something that my generation and generations to come are committed to, and I want to see government put their money where their mouth is, and not just blow hot air.”

Clark said Plastic Free Cayman and other organisations had campaigned for a single-use plastics ban because of the mountain of scientific evidence of the harm they were doing to the environment. She said there were daily examples of their impact on marine life in Cayman and suggested it was concerning that government felt the need to assess the “validity” of such concerns.

More than a third of Caribbean countries have banned the use of single-use plastic bags or Styrofoam, according to a recent World Bank analysis.