THE Government of Saint Lucia has joined in global calls for a universal battle against plastic waste, with both the Minister with responsibility for the environment and the Department of Sustainable Development issuing public statements on the issue.
In its statement issued to coincide with World Environment Day on Tuesday, the Department of Sustainable Development said: ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ — the theme for World Environment Day 2018 – “is a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time.”
According to the statement, “The theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife, and our own health.”
It noted that “While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become over reliant on single-use or disposable plastic – with severe environmental consequences.”
The statement continued, “Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute. Every year we use up to five trillion disposable plastic bags. In total, 50 per cent of the plastic we use is single use.
“Nearly one-third of the plastic packaging we use escapes collection systems, which means that it ends up clogging our city streets and polluting our natural environment.
“Every year, up to 13 million tons of plastic leaks into our oceans, where it smothers coral reefs and threatens vulnerable marine wildlife.”
The Department noted further that “The plastic that ends up in the oceans can circle the Earth four times in a single year and it can persist for up to 1,000 years before it fully disintegrates.”
The statement continued, “Plastic also makes its way into our water supply – and thus into our bodies. What harm does that cause? Scientists still aren’t sure, but plastics contain a number of chemicals, many of which are toxic or disrupt hormones.
“Plastics can also serve as a magnet for other pollutants, including dioxins, metals and pesticides.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Sustainable Development Gale Rigobert says, “We have seen the damage that plastics cause, especially in times of disaster when it clogs drains and waterways, which in turn causes flooding in certain areas.
“We must all do our part to combat this problem. If you can’t reuse it, refuse it!”
The department says, “This year’s World Environment Day provides an opportunity for each of us to embrace the many ways that we can help to combat plastic pollution around the world. And you don’t have to wait until 5 June to act.”
It concluded by pointing out that “There are so many things that we can do: Ask the restaurants you frequent to stop using plastic straws; Bring your own coffee mug to work; Carry a reusable water bottle and fill up at a water cooler; Bring your own shopping bags to the supermarket; Pressure food suppliers to use non-plastic packaging; Refuse plastic cutlery; and pick up any plastic you see the next time you go for a walk on the beach.”