Cayman’s Single-Use Plastics stakeholder committee has said it will recommend legislation banning certain single-use plastics with a January 2021 start date.

A Government Information Services statement on Friday said the committee, led by Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour and Infrastructure Minister Joseph Hew, unanimously agreed to include legislation to restrict items like single-use check-out shopping bags, polystyrene take-away containers, plastic straws, plastic stirrers, and plastic cotton swabs in its proposal to Cabinet.

“The Committee will continue to actively consider whether other single-use plastic items will be subject to legislation,” the statement said.

There was no indication on when the committee’s report will be submitted.

The committee said, in its statement, that it also intends to look into the effects of possibly banning other plastics (e.g., polystyrene or expanded foam products), “as well as to identify reasonable, practical alternative products that can be imported in place of the items that are proposed to be banned,” it added.

The committee was founded last year and includes representatives from a broad cross-section of industry and advocacy groups including Plastic Free Cayman.

Plastic Free Cayman and other local organisations have been campaigning for a single-use plastics ban due to growing scientific evidence that they were doing irreparable damage to the environment.

The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, have all implemented bans on the use and import of single-use plastic and polystyrene on 1 Jan.

Plastic waste continues to be an issue in Cayman with tons of plastic garbage being found discarded on local shorelines.

“The world, including the Cayman Islands, has a real problem with over reliance on single-use plastics. We have to work together on all levels; government, organisations, companies and individuals. We have to be accountable for the islands we intend for future generations to inherit,” said Minister Seymour in the statement.

The committee, following its third meeting, said opportunities for public input are planned for later in the year.

A dedicated email address is also currently being established, and will be shared shortly, with the public to send further information or comments to the Committee.

The committee, the statement said, continues to assess options for restrictive legislation on the identified items and other plastics. It will consider the implications for alternatives to single-use plastics bearing in mind Cayman’s economy, society and environment.

“The Cabinet-appointed Ministry-led Committee intends to fight against these harmful products ending up in the environment and also to alleviate the pressure on recycling plants, which cannot on their own solve the massive problem,” the statement added.

The committee has also looked at what other countries have done with respect to legislation banning certain products.

“At this time we are in the research stage. In the interim, as we continue to work diligently to make this a reality, there are so many organisations to thank for taking up the global plastic-free movement,” Seymour said.

“I know local restaurants that have already started to switch to compostable corn straws and many grocery stores now charge for plastic bags. Advocacy groups such as Plastic Free Cayman were also pivotal in bringing this to the national forefront for which both I and Minister Hew thank them.”

The committee is aligned with the National Solid Waste Management Policy which prioritises reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery through Cayman’s Integrated Solid Waste Management System.

Proposed items facing ban
Single-use check out shopping bags
Polystyrene take away containers
Plastic straws
Plastic stirrers
Plastic cotton swabs

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