Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Cooperatives, Sharon Rattan, has stated that Cabinet has supported the ban on single-use plastics and will possibly implement it in 2021. However, the Department of Environment intends to engage stakeholders on the issue before the ban is implemented.
The Permanent Secretary mentioned this while appearing on the radio and television show “Working for You” on December 02.
Conservation Officer in the Department of Environment, Cheryl Jeffers, who also appeared on the programme, spoke to the implications of having such a ban. She stated that plastic itself is cheap and has many benefits.
“Plastic is not all bad. There are certain things that we use on a day-to-day basis that plastic is the best option in terms of what we use,” she said. “So what we from the Department will be proposing is to ban the single-use plastics. For example, if you buy a bottle of water, you drink the water, you throw away the plastic bottle. That is what we are trying to discourage.”
She stated that in principle Cabinet has provided that level of support for the ban on single use plastics and has recognised that it needs to be done in a phased approach.
“Because there are various levels of stakeholders who will be impacted,” she said. “We are talking about the Ministry of Environment and Cooperatives. The Cooperatives Department in terms of the Agro-processors will be significantly affected. You walk around Basseterre and everyone who is trying to make a dollar selling local beverages or packaging something. So we need to take that into consideration in terms of how they will be impacted and to what extent and what mechanisms and measures we can put in place to offset some of the challenges.”
Ms. Jeffers said that this will require consultations and collaborations with key stakeholders in particular the Ministry of Finance.
“Everything at the end of the day is about dollars and cents,” she said. “So what we intend to do in terms of 2021 is to continue that dialogue, get the general public to give us their impressions of what they think and the alternatives.”
The Conservation Officer noted that the implementation of the ban will require serious behavioural changes.
“We will get some resistance, but at the end of the day, if we try to encourage and let them know that it’s for the greater good of not just us, but for the environment, we are hoping that we can get that level of support from the general audience. Stakeholder engagement is our first and most important step to ensure [this happens].”