Ministry of Climate Resilience advocates eco-friendly approach for holiday season

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • Ministry developing campaign to sensitise public on ridding environment of plastic bags
  • 1 February 2020 deadline for sale of any food item in or with a single-use plastic shopping bag with handles
  • Supermarkets encouraged to supply cardboard boxes for customer shopping

“It’s Fantastic To Shop Without Plastics” will be the slogan utilised to encourage the public as part of the strategy to encourage compliance with the Non-biodegradable Waste Control Act.

Tasked with driving this message home, the Ministry of Climate Resilience is currently developing a massive campaign to sensitise the public on the need to buy into the idea of ridding the environment of plastic bags as the government continues to implement phases of the Non-biodegradable Waste Control Act.

As part of their message, the ministry is also encouraging citizens to not wait until the date set in 2020 to comply with the ban on single-use plastic shopping bags but to start early by finding alternative ways of carrying home their groceries during this Christmas season.

Phase 3 of the implementation will see the prohibition of the sale of any food item in or with a single-use plastic shopping bag with handles, as of 1 February 2020. Importers were expected to deplete their stocks of the single-use plastic shopping bags by 1 December 2019. The Ministry of Climate Resilience encourages the use of reusable shopping bags this Christmas and throughout the next two months leading up to the February deadline.

Richard Beadle, Communications Consultant for the World Bank, is currently on hand assisting the Environment Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment on the campaign. “Don’t wait until 1 February. A lot of supermarkets are already complying and are already getting rid of the majority of their single-use handle plastic bags. Therefore, take your own bags, boxes or whatever it is to go and do your Christmas shopping,” he said.

Beadle has also advised major supermarkets to play their part by finding creative ways to encourage customers to support the ban. “To our retailers, we would like for you to figure out ways to help your customers by providing them with cardboard boxes instead of throwing them away. There are so many different innovative ways that we can approach this problem, so I am hoping to start that discussion on this campaign and see where the Grenadian public takes it, and hopefully, it becomes a really successful campaign,” Beadle said.

The Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority (GSWMA) is one of the entities working with the ministry as part of the Waste Management Task Force. The task force was set up to review the relevant legislation and suggest strategies to reduce high volumes of plastic waste in Grenada as the need for waste diversion becomes necessary with the current limited land space available at the Perseverance landfill. They have also helped drive much of the public education and awareness up to this point, however, they are yet to find an alternative landfill site, which is one of seven components of the Integrated Solid Waste Management Project.

“One of its components is the design and construction of the final cell for waste disposal at Perseverance and that final cell will not last as much as five years… so we ought to think in terms of either [an] alternative to disposal of waste,” said Senior Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the GSWMA, Myrna Julien. Finding an alternative site for landfill development is challenging given that it should not be too close to mangroves, general population or institutions or hotel development. “You would appreciate that Grenada is a very small island with limited land space available for such a development,” she said.

The Grenada Green Group (G3) continues advocating for the protection of the environment and has helped initiate the process for legislative changes to allow for the ban on the importation of polystyrene “Styrofoam” and plastic bags.

Ian Blaikie of G3 said despite the progress that has been made in the ban on plastics bags, there are still concerns about the importation and use of plastic bottles for bottled water. “One manufacturer of bottled water alone is bringing in a million a year; multiply that by the number of manufacturers or producers of bottled water, add to that the imported plastic bottles, then we must be talking about three or four million a year. There is nowhere for it to go and it is all toxic for the environment,” he said.

G3 is also concerned about the lack of enforcement of the penalties stipulated by the Abatement of the Litter Act passed in 2015. “Traffic wardens earlier this year were also made defacto litter wardens but I have asked a lot of traffic wardens recently what can you do if I drop litter in front of you, and the answer is virtually nothing; because they still have not been issued with penalty notices to enforce this law. Now I understand that will be on its way soon, but I don’t think it can be soon enough,” Blaikie said.

G3 anticipates working alongside the Ministry of Climate Resilience in their campaign to persuade the general public to reuse as much as possible.

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