After three meetings, the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Stakeholder Committee is in agreement to recommend restrictive legislation on certain single-use plastics in the Cayman Islands effective at the start of January 2021.
The SUP Committee, led by the Honourable Dwayne Seymour and Honourable Joseph Hew, also includes representatives from a broad cross-section of industry and advocacy groups. The committee has agreed unanimously that part of their proposal that will be submitted to Government will include legislation to restrict certain single-use plastic items such as: 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.
As part of the SUP Committee’s scope, other issues such as littering and increased penalties, effects of plastics on our physical health, the reduction of importing non-recyclable items, and public education on waste reduction, will all be considered and discussed in the SUP Committee’s Report to Cabinet.
“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.
The Ministry recognises that any legislation on single-use plastics in the Cayman Islands will impact local businesses and consumers. As the Committee continues to assess options for restrictive legislation on these items and other plastics, it will consider the implications for alternatives to single-use plastics within a holistic understanding of Cayman’s economy, society and environment. Opportunities for public input are planned for later in the year and a dedicated email address is also currently being established, and will be shared shortly, which members of the public may utilize for further information or comments for the Committee.
In assessing the scale of the plastic pollution problem, the Ministry and its Committee cite many countries and cities around the world which have already passed legislation banning certain products. 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.
Minister Seymour continued, “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. 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 SUP Committee 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.
Committee member and Acting Chief Officer of the Ministry of Health Ms. Nellie Pouchie said, “Research shows that plastics cause so much harm to our environments. Ensuring Caymanians benefit from a healthy environment is one of Government’s broad policy outcomes. Actions that help us mitigate harmful impacts to the environment, our beloved blue seas, wildlife and ultimately to our people, align us with these goals. The single-use plastic-free movement is on the rise with a proliferation of legislation happening around the world. We look forward to working with this dedicated group on the Committee to come up with the best policy and methods with which to mitigate the health and environmental harms of single-use plastics on our islands.”
The formation of the SUP Committee is aligned with the National Solid Waste Management Policy which prioritises reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery through an Integrated Solid Waste Management System within the Cayman Islands.
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