Plastic waste at the beach.
COLE BAY–Nature Foundation had again called on Parliament to ban single-use plastic products – bags, straws and cutlery as well as Styrofoam food containers – to reduce marine litter and pollution on St. Maarten.
Through the “Reduce and Reuse St. Maarten” project, Nature Foundation will fight plastic pollution and is teaching and encouraging residents, children and businesses to reduce their plastic waste output and clean-up the environment.
Part of the project is to lobby for a Single-use plastic ban, as awareness on its own will not reduce the massive amounts of waste created and left behind on beaches and in the environment.
In order to protect our environment for the generations to come, to minimalize our landfill and to changes St Maarten’s image of a garbage island into an eco-friendly destination, a ban on single-use plastics is needed. Thanks to the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine and the Heineken Regatta for their donations to the project.
Single use plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental catastrophes of this generation. These types of plastics are also a major contributor to the current situation at the Philipsburg landfill.
St. Maarten uses a remarkable amount of single-use plastics every day, as plastic bags are given for free for every purchased item and plastic straws with any drink. Also takeout food in Styrofoam is normal and very popular, this also includes plastic cutlery.
“We calculated that Dutch St Maarten alone uses more than 1.4 billion plastic straws a year; straws are used for a few minutes and last forever in the environment. A lot of our single-use plastics end up in our environment and ocean due to littering and poor garbage disposal. Besides, St. Maarten just cannot handle this much single-use plastic waste, our dump is already overfull” said Nature Foundation Project Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.
Worldwide, there is growing interest in protecting the environment and moving away from single-use plastics. Over 200 nations have already either banned items like plastic bags and straws or require consumers to pay a fee per use.
Recently even the European Union (EU) proposed to ban single-use plastic products in order to reduce the massive amount of ocean pollution. The landfill reached its maximum capacity already in 2008 and garbage bins along beaches are overflowing daily, there is simply no more room for unnecessary waste.
Nature Foundation said single-use plastic products are easy to be replaced with more environmentally sustainable materials.
Reusable products are highly recommended, such as reusable shopping bags, these bags are much more durable and stronger, the less waste we create the better for our waste problems. Single-use products can easily be substituted by biodegradable products such as paper straws or biodegradable cups and food containers, which are all already available on the island.