Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Clayton: Plastic bottles should have been banned, too

Published:Thursday | October 1, 2020 | 12:12 AM

Dr Andrea Clayton is criticising the Government for not banning plastic bottles when it moved to stamp out the use of Styrofoam containers, single-use plastic bags, and plastic straws over two years ago.

Clayton, who was recently appointed local and Caribbean lead person for the global network Plastics Pollution Governance Framework, said a full campaign is needed around the proper use of plastics that spans well beyond the Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica initiative, which aims to reduce littering across the country.

“Look at how many plastic bottles are out there. Somebody may have been selling bag juice, and you introduce a ban on plastics, and you run them out of business. These people now say, “Ok, I am going to sell it in bottles now’. Now, I am selling the same amount of plastic bags – or more – in plastic bottles,” she said, adding that companies need to absorb some of the responsibility for plastic pollution.

“That again comes back to production responsibility. We are seeing it happening in other developed societies but not across the region and not in Jamaica. We need a national consensus around it. One of the benefits of the things that we will be proposing will be based on real data,” Clayton said.

“This is not just about litter, but also about understanding why we should limit use of plastics,” she added.

SHARING IDEAS

Pointing to the importance of the network – which is being funded by the United Kingdom (UK) government and functions through the University of Surrey in the UK – Clayton said its main purpose is to share ideas with other countries and conduct research to enable a better understanding of the drivers of plastics pollution.

The network also has representatives from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Malawi, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, and the United States.

Clayton, a professor in sustainable development and academic research at the Caribbean Maritime University, called for data to be made available on how effective the ban on plastics has been since full implementation on January 1 last year.

Admitting that plastics have value, she said the push was not for a total elimination, but for a change in attitude in how the public treats with plastic.

She also suggested that the Government rushed the implementation of a ban on plastics.

“That is the problem, which is why it is important to understand the driver before we even try to introduce legislation. In much of Canada, the legislation only came about after people changed behaviour anyway,” Clayton said.

She said that unlike in the Caribbean and parts of Africa,where short notice was given for the ban, where other jurisdictions gave two or more years’ notice, coupled with massive education campaigns and intensive stakeholder engagement to get persons to understand the need for reducing plastics, usually, there was success.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com