Government is set to save millions of dollars when the ban on the importation of single-use plastics comes into effect.
That is according to Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey who said using environmentally-friendly materials was not only healthier but also more cost-efficient.
Speaking in Parliament today during debate on the Control of Disposable Plastics Bill 2019, Humphrey revealed that single-use plastics in packaging had been calculated to cost around $5 million.
He said within the first year of the ban, the country was set to save almost $6 million on plastic bags alone.
“If we were able to reuse some of these plastics, we would save a significant amount of money. So here is the plan; I believe all Barbadians should have one or two reusable plastic bags…the initial costs may be a few dollars, but if you keep those bags for a year, the savings to the country would be phenomenal,” Humphrey assured.
The Minister said it had been calculated that 150 000 pounds of single-use cups, or six million cups were being imported into Barbados annually.
Additionally, he said 140 000 pounds of plastic straws were also being imported into the country every year.
However, the most shocking statistic revealed that Barbados was using almost 90 million plastic bags annually.
He said Barbados had to pride itself in becoming the cleanest country in the region.
“At the end of the day we don’t need them, and I hope we get to the point where Barbados has said this is the final straw,” Humphrey noted.
“Barbadians are using millions of bags in a year and it only looks so, but the fact is most of these bags are not going to any recycler because you don’t recycle these bags. A significant portion of these bags is ending up in the ocean, ending up in the fish.
“We have to change the way we do business and that is how we got to this legislation,” he added.
Humphrey said studies had shown that the use of plastics was not only killing fish and marine life, but human beings as well.
He said microplastics were ending up in fish and were eventually being consumed by human beings, leading to a “direct contribution to ill health”.
According to Humphrey plastics had been shown to cause gastroenteritis and could also lead to depression among human beings.