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Single-use plastic laws likely this year as final proposals drafted

Plastic waste found on a local beach. (Photograph supplied)

Legislation to cut back on single-use plastics in Bermuda is expected to come forward this year, but the details of the proposal are still up for discussion.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said it was possible that a first phase of the plastic ban could come into effect in 2022, but that it was dependent on the results of continuing consultation.

He said. “My pledge is to make this as smooth a transition as possible and not do anything that creates an overly unnecessary burden.

“We want to do what people can manage doing, and we know that the economic situation in Bermuda is not easy right now, so we are not interested in putting a heavier burden than is necessary on our business community and those seeking to work and survive here.

“But we are seeking to make these changes because they are necessary for quality of life, for health and for the protection of our environment.”

Mr Roban added that he had not spoken to anyone who disagreed with the need for action.

He said: “People have their own minds about how it should be done or what should be taken out of the system, but no one has said we need to keep all of these pollutant, single-use, waste plastics in the environment.

“How we do it that is the thing we must carefully research.”

The Government announced in the 2018 Throne Speech that it intended to eliminate single-use plastics in Bermuda by this year, and a policy paper released last summer suggested that banning some plastic and styrofoam items could still be on the cards for this year.

The paper proposed that a list of items should initially be banned from importation, with businesses given a window of time to use up any stock already on island.

The window would be followed with a ban on the sale and distribution of the items, along with a ban on the release of helium-filled balloons outdoors.

Mr Roban said that much consultation on the proposal has been carried out but further discussions would take place with stakeholders before any plans are finalised.

He said: “My team has done extensive consultation with local groups on this and they have now come to the point where they have the data and the feedback that has been accumulated.

“They are bringing that together in a report and then they will go back and talk to some of the relevant stakeholders about what the assessment is.

“Out of that will come the proposal of what we intend to do.”

Mr Roban said the Government always intended to take a phased approach to the project as some single-use plastics are much more difficult to remove than others.

He said: “Many of the alternatives are not yet available or they are costly, and one of the things we would like to do is minimise the unnecessary cost to businesses and consumers and keep the cost of the transition as minimal as possible.

“There are some things that will be phased out more quickly than others because it is practical, but other things that are more substantial and complicated we will continuously evaluate and move to deal with as the alternatives arrive.”

Mr Roban said some stakeholders have already begun to take action to reduce the use of plastic and styrofoam products and he applauded their efforts.

He said: “If you go to a lot of takeout places, you see now that they are using paper materials to pack their goods or they have minimised the amount of plastic to just a few things when it used to be everything.

“We want to help that process along but we will do it in a systematic, phased manner, I assure you.

“I am committed to make sure that everyone is heard in this process, and I will not make one step until I am assured that every voice has been heard.”

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Published February 02, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated February 02, 2022 at 7:59 am)

Single-use plastic laws likely this year as final proposals drafted

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