Plastic Free Cayman has welcomed government’s single-use plastic stakeholder committee’s planned recommendation for legislation banning certain items effective January 2021.

Claire Hughes, Plastic Free Cayman founder, said the advocacy group was “delighted the Government are taking these steps to move towards a plastic-free Cayman”.

A Government Information Services statement released Friday from the committee, which is led by Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour and Infrastructure Minister Joseph Hew, said after three meetings there was unanimous agreement to include legislation in its proposal to Cabinet that would restrict certain items like single-use check-out shopping bags, polystyrene take-away containers, plastic straws, plastic stirrers, and plastic cotton swabs.

“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.

For Hughes the announcement is a positive step.
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.

“We will soon join many other countries in the fight against plastic and hope that as awareness grows companies here will continue to reduce the amount of plastic they use/sell and become more sustainable, where the focus shifts from disposing to reusing,” she told the Cayman Compass.

Committee to continue its review

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” .

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

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

Plastic waste continues to be an issue in Cayman with tons of plastic garbage 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 Seymour in the statement.

The committee said later this year it will set up a dedicated email address, which is currently being established, and will be shared shortly, to enable the public to send further information or comments to the group.

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.

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