Public to have say on proposed single use plastic ban
A public consultation process on single-use plastics in a bid to abolish the product by next year is to be launched, the Government announced today.
Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, said that the Government had pledged in 2018 to rid the island of the material – including plastic cups, cutlery, straws and food containers – by 2022.
He added: “We have also committed to educating the public about recycling and reusable items and encouraging greater sensitivity to the ocean and its importance to our lives.”
Mr Roban said: “One of the many unfortunate side-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is a projected 30 per cent increase in plastic waste in 2020 compared to 2019, so this initiative is even more critical.”
Mr Roban highlighted that the Government had announced a three-stage approach to the problem in March, starting with a public information campaign and consultations on the proposed ban.
The consultation will start next Wednesday, after which Government plans to table legislation banning the sale, distribution, and use of single use plastics.
Mr Roban said importers and businesses would be given time to exhaust existing stocks and source biodegradable alternatives before a ban was imposed.
A third phase will consider the impact of the ban.
He added a policy paper had also been announced on the regulation of single use plastics.
Mr Roban said: “This document outlines the Government's direction to eliminate single-use plastics and the intent to publish this paper for discussion so that the general public, businesses and environmental organisations may have their say and contribute to the solution.
“I am excited to announce that as of September 1, the policy paper will be available to review for public consultation by visiting forum.gov.bm.
“Our consultations will include as many stakeholders as possible, including retailers, importers, wholesale businesses and of course environmental groups and the general public.
“I urge everyone to engage with us in the consultations so we can work together to focus on the ultimate goal of this policy – eliminating single-use plastics – and to bring it to fruition as soon as possible.”
Mr Roban said that plastic pollution had become “a horrific global issue” that Bermuda could help eliminate.
He added: “There is growing evidence that plastic pollution in the air, on land, and our oceans and seas are also detrimental to human health and wellbeing.
“We continue to learn about the potential harm that microplastics, in particular, are having on human health – especially when they enter the ocean's food chain, which threatens our food security.
“When large pieces of plastic remain in the environment, they break down into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually becoming microplastics.”
Mr Roban said: “Microplastics measure less than five millimetres, can stay in the ocean for centuries and are of increasing concern as they represent a growing portion of marine litter.
“As such, microplastics are known to interact with a wide range of species, including plankton, fish, clams, seabirds, and marine mammals, in diverse marine habitats.
“Microplastics also impact humans. Research is ongoing, but a recent study conducted by the University of Newcastle in Australia has estimated that while consuming everyday food items, the average individual may ingest up to five grams of plastic a week, or the equivalent of one credit card worth of plastic.”