BOT minister highlights massive plastic cut at FCO

| 29/11/2018 | 8 Comments
Cayman News Service

Click to read more on Plastics Free Cayman

(CNS): The Foreign Office minister with responsibility for the British Overseas Territories and the Commonwealth, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, has announced a huge drop in single-use plastics (SUPs) used by FCO staff in the UK. Since February, the Foreign Office has successfully eliminated 97% of SUPs, cutting down on around 1.56 million pieces of plastic in just 10 months as part of an initiative to reduce plastic use across the Commonwealth. According to the UK government website, the announcement  coincides with Lord Ahmad’s attendance at the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Kenya, where leaders from Commonwealth countries, including Canada and Kenya, shared their ambitions for marine protection.

“Every one of us has the power to make choices which can reduce our own plastic use,” the minister said in a press release from London. “As we take our message around the world and call on other countries to take action, it is only right we strive to eliminate all avoidable single-use plastic here in the UK and it is fantastic to see the Foreign Office leading the way.”

The Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance (CCOA), announced by Prime Minister Theresa May during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in April, aims to unite countries around the Commonwealth so they can work together to turn the tide on plastic entering the marine environment. Each country has pledged to take action, such as banning microbeads, committing to cutting down on single use plastic bags, and other steps to eliminate avoidable plastic waste.

The UK is offering funding to countries to improve waste management systems, implement other initiatives to reduce plastics waste and help them to deliver their ambitions under the COAA. Included in the £66.4million plastic package is a £25 million Marine Plastics Research and Innovation Framework to help researchers approach the scourge of marine plastic waste from a scientific, technical, economic and social perspective.

Here in Cayman, there has been little effort by government to reduce plastic use, either by carrot or stick, such as taxing single-use plastics.

However, where government is lacking, civil society and local business is stepping up to promote a reduction in use and organise regular beach clean-ups. Some retailers have cut down on or even eliminated the use of plastic shopping bags, while some bars have stopped serving drinks in plastic cups with straws.

Local activists Plastic Free Cayman organise plastic clean-ups and work hard to encourage everyone to take the 345 Pledge and cut their use at work and home.

Read more and take the 345 Pledge

The million square mile plastic garbage patch floating in the Pacific Ocean is just one of the consequences of mankind’s 50-year love affair with the substance that is poisoning marine life. Plastic is showing up in Arctic sea ice and at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Scientists are also learning that plastic is changing the behaviour of marine creatures and having profound effects on ocean life. The public is increasingly aware of whales choking to death on plastic bags or seeing turtles strangled by discarded fishing nets, but plastics also contain a range of potentially toxic chemicals, including additives used in their manufacture, and substances that marine life is absorbing.

These toxins then interfere with their own chemical messaging systems that enable them to detect danger or food. This is believed to be impacting small mollusks as well as larger shell and other fish, which scientists believe will have a serious impact on the food chain.

Detailing how the FCO has cut the plastic use by its staff, officials said that over half a million disposable plastic coffee cups have been completely removed from the FCO’s UK offices and wider estate since the introduction of a 50p levy on single use cups in the UK in April.

Biodegradable coffee cups are now provided as an alternative, but staff are encouraged to use their own mugs. To cut other catering-related waste, the FCO has removed take-away cutlery, food containers, and drinks bottles, replacing them with vegware biodegradable alternatives. The leading government department in plastic waste reduction the FCO said it was sharing its experience across Whitehall and internationally.

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Read more about the FCO efforts here

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Category: environmental health, Health, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    an unfortunate death of a visitor generated more comments than plastic pollution in the Cayman Islands.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Now if only they could cut some of the bullshit too.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Bag the Plastic, BECOME Green.

    Has this governmental site been updated since 2012?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Did they offer funding to the Cayman islands?

    In Corfu, a Greek island, ” Authorities were forced to close down a previous landfill at Temploni following a European Union fine for breaching environmental regulations. ”

    Now in Cayman, we have the Dump, not a landfill. Why wouldn’t the UK force the CIG to close it, for I am sure it violates international and the UK environmental regulations??

    Who has authority to do so?

    • Anonymous says:

      What happens at the dump and what has happened at the dump over the many years is clearly in contravention of the Water Authority Law. However, the Water Authority can’t call out the DEH since records show it’s own operation of the Sewage Treatment Works has violated its own legal standards over the years

      They are both complicit in the degradation of our environment.

    • Anonymous says:

      We have similar dumps in the UK. We just look after them better.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just go into C I G canteen and you will see the governments approach to plastic reduction and recycling. Everything is thrown in the bin and destined for Trashmore.
    Alden is so thick he dosen’t give a f#@k except if there is a $ going into his pocket.
    The selfish man clearly does not care about the future generation.

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