iLocal News Archives

The Editor Speaks: Plastic bags. Should we practice TCI’s example?

We have published a story today titled “Goodbye to single use plastic bags Ban to take effect from January 2019”. It tells us that the Turks and Caicos Islands Government are cracking down on the single use of plastic bags which will be soon removed from all the country’s supermarkets and shops.

From the TCI article:

“At the latest meeting of Cabinet on September 26, members approved a ban on the import of single use plastic bags.

“The import ban will come into effect from January 1, 2019, and a ban on the use of single use plastic bags by retailers will come into effect on May 1, 2019.

“Cabinet also approved a list of alternative bags which can be used by retailers from May 1, 2019, on which reduced custom tariff rates on some will be applied.”

The article also says: “Beaches resort recently announced the elimination of single-use plastic straws and stirrers at all its 19 properties across the Caribbean.

“The move, the all-inclusive resort chain said on September 18, will result in the elimination of 21,490,800 single-use plastic straws and stirrers across its resorts each year.

“Instead eco-friendly paper straws will be available upon request.”

Should we practice their example?

Of course. It’s a step in the right direction.

However, it is not going to make a huge difference.

If you walk into any supermarket or shop the shelves are full with goods and the large majority are packaged in plastic. Not just thin plastic like the bags and straws. Thick plastic. Even the supermarket sandwiches are placed in thick plastic containers and vacuum sealed that is very hard or almost impossible to open by tugging at the projecting tags.

From The Economist:
N A paper published last year in Science Advances, Roland Geyer of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his colleagues put the cumulative amount of solid plastic waste produced since the 1950s that has not been burned or recycled at 4.9bn tonnes. It could all have been dumped in a landfill 70 metres deep and 57 square kilometres in area—roughly the size of Manhattan—if only it had remained on land.

Unfortunately, much of the world’s plastic has ended up in the ocean, where, dispersed by currents, the stuff becomes virtually irretrievable, especially once it has fragmented into microplastics. Computer models suggest that seas hold as many as 51trn microplastic particles. Some are the product of larger pieces breaking apart; others, like microbeads added to toothpaste or face scrubs, were designed to be tiny.

Even if the flow of plastic into the sea, totalling perhaps 10m tonnes a year, were instantly stanched, huge quantities would remain. But humans will not stop littering the oceans anytime soon. Most of the plastic in the seas today comes not from tidy Europe and America, but from countries in fast-developing East Asia, where waste-collection systems are flawed or non-existent. Last October scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, in Germany, found that ten rivers—two in Africa and the rest in Asia—discharge 90% of all plastic marine debris. The Yangtze alone carries 1.5m tonnes a year.


Until the real problem of plastic packaging is placed at the front of our plastic bans we are not even tacking the main problem at all.


And here in the Cayman Islands we’re not even legislating against the use of plastic bags!



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