PHILIPSBURG–Nature Foundation Foundation Director Tadzio Bervoets and Projects Officer Melanie Meijer Zu-Schlochtern presented the Foundation’s document outlining the steps for St. Maarten to take to enforce a ban of single use plastic bags to Parliament Chairwoman Sarah Wescot-Williams on Friday.
The Foundation drafted a guiding document which lays out steps for Parliament to draft and vote on a law which would ban single use plastic bags, one of the most environmentally damaging products on the island and a major contributor to the current situation at the Philipsburg dump.
The package included draft legislation, supporting documentation, a guideline for policy makers drafted by the United Nations and the steps which other countries, including Aruba, took in order to ban plastic bags.
“It is now up to our decision makers to push this initiative through,” said Bervoets.
Single use plastic bags are some of the most environmentally damaging products on the island. They do not biodegrade and stay in the ecosystem, causing health impacts to the environment, animals and humans. Single use plastic bags are especially harmful to sea turtles, sea birds, coral and fish that are smothered, chocked and otherwise harmed or killed by the plastic bags. Single use plastic bags are also made of petroleum by-products that have been shown to cause cancer in humans.
Zu-Schlochtern also presented Wescot-Williams with the results of the Nature Foundation petition calling for Government to find an immediate solution to the situation at the dump in the Great Salt Pond. Some 1,800 residents have signed the petition calling for a solution to the most significant environmental challenge on the island. Plastic bags are one of the major contributors to the situation at the dump.
Wescot-Williams, in the meeting, confirmed that she was also working on a draft law and has been in contact with decision-makers in Aruba who worked on establishing the ban there. Wescot-Williams has also been engaging the community on public opinion of banning plastic bags and the social and economic impacts a ban would have as well as looking at various alternatives to single use plastic bags once a possible ban goes into effect.