Government’s decision to ban single-use plastics has been no easy journey, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey has admitted.
And while declaring his ministry was committed to “staying the course” on the issue, Humphrey said while many Barbadians are committed to the massive change in principle, they were not willing to adapt in reality.
“We believe it is the right thing, but to ask people to give it up and commit to that adaptive work, that is where the challenge is,” Humphrey told a gathering at the opening of the 3rd CARICOM Regional Workshop on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).
The ban, which took effect from the first of this month, has received tremendous criticism ever since it was announced last September, forcing distributors and retailers of single-use plastic products to swiftly find alternatives.
“Like many of our sister CARICOM states, Barbados has taken steps to ban the importation, sale, retail and use of single-use plastics in polystyrene in Barbados.
“It is my ministry that has implemented this ban and I don’t know how many others have tried to implement a ban on plastics. It is no easy feat,” he said to the amusement of the audience.
Just last week, it was revealed that many of the replacement products tested positive for dangerous chemicals and so far, the minister has declined to address the matter.
During his address, Humphrey told reporters: “For those of you who are here, I will not have a conversation about the ban on plastics. But the truth is this is not an easy thing.
“Even as I was driving here, a member of the press was calling me asking me about the ban on plastics.”
To successfully implement the ban, Humphrey explained: “I have a friend who is a doctor and he told me ‘most people don’t die because of an operation, but because they have to change their practices after the operation. It is not the technical fix; it is the nature of the adaptive work that people must do. So people agree that we should ban plastics, but in reality it seems a very difficult task.
“Nevertheless, we are staying the course and ensuring we do what we have to,” he assured.
The Minister lauded a decision by Prime Minister Mia Mottley and other CARICOM heads, who recently adopted the St John’s Declaration, pledging, among other things to maintain a commitment to global advocacy against the harmful effects of marine plastics litter and marine plastics.