POF activists step up call for plastic ban

| 13/12/2021 | 38 Comments
George Town landfill (photo by Protect Our Future)

(CNS): The two tonnes of plastic trash that volunteers picked up from Grand Cayman’s shoreline for World Cleanup Day in September represents the total amount of plastic the island consumes in just over four minutes, according to activists from Protect our Future. This finding has prompted the young environmentalists to start another campaign to urge government to act now to ban single-use plastics.

The previous government had made a commitment to ban single-use plastic by January this year and blamed COVID-19 for the failure to achieve this. But during the four years since Dart was selected to build the waste-to-energy facility, government has failed to roll out any of the policies that were meant to be part of an overall rubbish management plan.

“The urgency of our island’s problems is often met with stalled policy and inaction,” the young activists said, as they explained why they have been targeting this critical issues with dozens of different environmental campaigns.

They have now launched the ‘Our Future is NOT Single-Use’ campaign, which the group said was a statement that speaks for itself and is intended to address the “grievous problem” of plastic pollution as well as Cayman’s wider problem of over-consumption.

“Whether it is a call to action to protect our mangroves, reefs and seagrass from destruction or to limit our plastic consumption, this campaign aims to shift Cayman’s narrative,” POF activists Thomas Dickens, Chloe Bentick-Lalli and Nic Corin said in a press release. “It is also a call to action for the consumer and the developer, for the politician and the small business owner, for the fisherman and the student. We all have our part to play.”

The ban on single-use plastic is more urgent than ever, and in his budget address to Parliament last month Premier Wayne Panton said the PACT Government was ready to move forward with the ban. “We do not believe in reinventing the wheel and will therefore resurrect the work previously done on that and move forward,” he said.

But as PACT prepares the legislation for that ban, the students are urging people to fill up their own reusable water bottles instead of buying single-use ones. They also encouraged all restaurants to consider substitutes for polystyrene take-out trays and said they are continuing their work with Plastic Free Cayman, which has been campaigning tirelessly for almost five years to get the ban on certain plastic items, such as bags, food packaging and single-use water bottles.

“This holiday season let’s try to be more conscious of the gifts we buy,” the activists said as they asked people to think more about their consumption. “Do we need the new phone and shoes? If we do buy them, how can we reuse or repurpose what we already have? Making small transitions creates a ripple effect of change. Our landfill reminds us that this is a change our island and consumer culture desperately need.”

They also urged the government to establish a reuse centre now instead of several years down the road, as the ReGen project suggests, where community members can repurpose furniture, appliances and tools, reinforcing the wisdom of redirecting tonnes of unnecessary waste from the landfill long before the WTE facility is finished.

“Most people think of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. However, the most essential R is Refuse. If we refuse some of our waste from the onset, we can limit so much more of our collective trash,” they added.

Protect Our Future began as an environmental banner campaign by four students back in 2019. Today, the grassroots organisation has over 60 committed members from a variety of schools tackling environmental challenges of all shapes and sizes, from increasing environmental education to challenging unsustainable over-development projects to evaluating the harmful impact sunscreen has on the health of our reefs. 

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Category: Community, Land Habitat, Local News, Science & Nature

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Ok So we ban plastic shopping bags and go to bringing our own shopping bag, which I do anyway. And if we ban take away containers, plastic straws, plastic stirrers, plastic cotton swabs. (Really? Plastic cotton swabs? Yeah HUGE polluters they are! Good God!) This is just a supremely silly feel-good exercise. When I buy cereal, prepackaged frozen foods,crackers, cookies, snacks, candy, grains, dry beans, detergent pods, OTC medications, hands sanitiser, cosmetics, just about anything in a bottle or jar, small gadgets and tools, hardware or hanging-display item, all the boxes have plastic bags in them or they are packed in plastic bags, plastic containers or have plastic wrappings. PLUS just about every manufactured consumer item is all or partly made of plastic. I can think of very few packaged food items and consumer goods that do not involve “single-use” plastic packaging or plastic in the manufacturing. All my new furniture and appliances came shipped in boxes with a plastic inner protective cover and often with a plastic outer wrap. Not to mention the polyester used in the upholstery. Christmas wrap is often Mylar. Check out pallets of shipped goods, many if not most the pallets of smaller items/boxes are wrapped in a large volume of plastic sheet wrapping. I can think of very few packaged food items and consumer goods that do not involve plastic in the packaging or the manufacturing. I very rarely buy take-out. The proposed ban list will eliminate, what, 1% of my household’s plastic footprint? The idea of Cayman banning plastic food packaging any time in the foreseeable future is the pipe dream of those with their head in la-la land. I cannot even wrap my head around the fact that the Panton Clown Car would insult our intelligence with this tripe. So far this exercise is akin to wetting your pants: everyone can see that you have done something, but in the end all you are left with is a warm feeling that soon turns cold.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There are a myriad of alternative compostable packaging solutions to replace traditional plastics. The issue with those products however is that they only breakdown in a specially designed “commercial composting facility”. Read the fine print. Our focus needs to be on matching allowable products to composting capabilities. Once we have the composting facilities in place, then change the laws to only allow products that can be composted there.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately Cayman will never win on this one. All we can do is what is being done. Institute recycling laws, encourage nation wide cleanups, encourage self responsibility and continue our pride and actions to protect and preserve our natural environment.

    As for what washes ashore, thanks to the neighboring countries and elsewhere, all we can do is clean up their mess that we unfortunately inherit on a daily basis.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Say it Like it is” @ 9:13 pm.- Of course, there’s one in every crowd – actually too many! Yes, you shit-stirrer!

    By your reasoning ALL the expats (white, black, brown oriental) I see still buying plastic bags are uneducated! Thanks for the acknowledgement! Say it like it is – you said!

    Listen, morons who don’t give a damn exist in all shades and nationalities – you’re proof!

    Educated, environmentally-sensitive locals who tote their own green shopping bags exist too – that’s many like me!

  5. Anonymous says:

    LFT tests are single use.
    The syringes withe the vaccine are single use.
    Gloves that the doctors use are single use.
    Garbage bag are single use.
    Feminine care products are single use.
    Diapers are single use.
    Pill bottles;
    Food packaging;
    Makeup containers;
    ALOT of plastic is single use and will still end up in the landfill or ocean.

    Define “single use”. It’s such a useless term.

    Bottles? Ok ban plastic bottles. But what do you do when a disaster hits and water is not available. How do we get water in an emergency? That has happened here after Ivan.

    It’s not like people don’t care but activists need to be realistic.

    Recycling only ends up in some other country’s jungle. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it hasn’t moved some where else.

    I saw a barge in Hog Sty being loaded up with debris a couple weeks ago. It wasn’t covered. How much if that blows in to the ocean?

    The people who made plastic knew it wasn’t good for the environment and they used marketing to push the idea of recycling as the onus and guilt on the customer.

    Littering is bad. Fines and jail time should be enforced.

    Plastic is a problem but plastic has also helped us with food and medicine.

    I see both sides of the coin.

    • Anonymous says:

      You simply need to identify essential items. It’s been done all over the world. What an ignorant comment

  6. Anonymous says:

    Big up POF and other environmentalist volunteers!

    As an advocate I notice that the “plastic-free” initiatives seem to get reasonable support (not good enough yet) then the emphasis fades away and out of the consciousness of much of the public. Years ago the bring-your-resuable bag to the market initiative kicked off nicely but hit a plateau because plastic bags remained available for whatever reasons, practical, commercial, political. Also, I noted a good number of food service estabs switch to cardboard containers, but again, with plastic alternatives readily available, it reached a plateau and the general public awareness subsided. Kudos to ALL the establishments which continue to provide plastic-free options to their customers!

    It’s great that regular environmental-awareness activities are occurring and sustained, primarily on the initiatives of voluntary NFP organizations (thank you all). It’s great that media outlets are doing their parts to keep it in the public’s eye but clearly more needs to be done.

    We now have a Government which seemed to be willing to approach protection of the environment with some seriousness yet declared that development/construction will be one of the main fuelers of the economy on their watch. Let’s see how well their environmental protection intentions do!

    Without firm Government commitment to all aspects of environmental protection (incl. serious enforcements and NO more BS “after-the-fact” approvals), the volunteers can’t do it all or even keep up. It’s a cultural matter too, in the broadest context – we all own it, a dirty island reflects on ALL who live here – so all the more that it should be a national priority.

    Let’s see what the PACT will do!

  7. Say it like it is. says:

    More than half of supermarket customers still opt for plastic bags (not educated expats) as they can’t be bothered to buy reusable bags. Supermarkets should increase their charge for plastic bags to $1 a bag, this will cure the problem.

  8. Anonymous says:

    There shouldn’t be any styrofoam or #5 plastic single use take out cups or food containers in 2022. Big Mac clamshells were banned in 1990. Plastic shopping bags can go too, but not if they are replaced by tone deaf heavier-duty multi-use plastic bags, as has been common elsewhere. Cayman unfortunately doesn’t get much say over North America’s consumer goods packaging. We also need to look long and hard at our unhealthy and planet-killing diets!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Maybe start fixing the dump thats killing us all with toxic fumes and start a recycling centre.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hope these warriors don’t pay attention to the naysayers and their catty remarks. You guys are doing what needs to be done, so hang tough. And thank you.

  11. Beaumont Zodecloun says:

    I am in complete agreement with cracking/cutting down on plastics, especially those which are single use and ‘disposable’.

    Can we define what this means without screaming and rancor?

    ALL of our bread comes in a plastic wrapper. After the bread is done, I use it for putting cat turds in and thus throwing it away. Almost all of our shipped goods arrive in single-use plastic and often also in cardboard.

    I am a conservationist. I think people screw up the environment every place they settle and congregate. I support setting aside lands for public use, and cleaning up the air, water, land and in general cleaning up our collective acts.

    I think it is wonderful to have people involved, and this is a great cause. I worry about terms such as “ban”, and I would encourage those espousing those words to define more clearly what they mean and how we are to get our goods. I’m certain thousands would like to join you, if we are certain we can still get our round bread. ;o) All best

    • Anonymous says:

      My thoughts exactly.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are five items the single-use plastic ban proposal calls to be taken off the shelves:
      – Single-use check out shopping bags
      – Polystyrene take away containers
      – Plastic straws
      – Plastic stirrers
      – Plastic cotton swabs

      Medical equipment is excluded.

  12. Anonymous says:

    A lot of the beach waste comes from other islands in the Caribbean and washes up on our shores. Do you expect to ban plastics in Cuba, Jamaica, Ect.?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Just stop the littering along the streets before trying to get fancy.

    • Anonymous says:

      A drive on a roadway after the brush cutters leave shows how much littering and how little concern there is for the environment here from many people. The mindless act of tossing trash from vehicles is a disgusting. The act of illegal dumping is also a massive problem here.

  14. Anonymous says:

    No mention though of any action on the Polystyrene foam-block construction form technique now commonly used in most house and apartment block construction here.
    Anyone who doesn’t know what this is, just take a casual look next time driving by any current construction projects that are underway.

    • Anonymous says:

      So maybe we should ban all EPS insulation to? You want people to start paying higher electricity bills. Besides, EPS used for insulation is usually a permanent fixture. Where talking about single use plastics on this thread. Please think before posting irrelevant arguments.

      • Anonymous says:

        Every single building and high-rise that gets torn down goes entirely into landfills without any sorting…the asbestos, lead, PVC, other metals and all. In the developed world, construction debris comprises >80% of landfill volume, and it’s often dumped by unsupervised contracted haulers, and trucked in at hours where nobody is present to keep track.

        • Anonymous says:

          Where have any buildings incorporating EPS been torn down here? It’s only been 20 years since EPS has been used in construction in Cayman. Until other economical technologies replace EPS in construction it’s not going away any time soon. Neither are polyisocyanurate or polyurethane for that matter. I think you need to either find a cave or build yourself a mud hut like our ancestors lived in.

  15. Anonymous says:

    No more lateral flow tests for them then. Solid wood PCR’s all the way I guess.

    • Anonymous says:

      Although it’s unclear, they want a ban of certain single-use plastics. Medical equipment is completely necessary. I believe some of what they wish to be banned is in the Compass article “Plastic Free Cayman pleased with ban proposal”

    • anonymous says:

      There are five items included in the single-use plastic ban proposal: Single-use check out shopping bags, Polystyrene take away containers, Plastic straws, Plastic stirrers, Plastic cotton swabs.

      Medical equipment is not included in the ban 🙂

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