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Environment Minister Applauds Changing Attitudes Towards Recycling, Waste Management

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By: Precious Mills

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Wednesday 27th March 2024) – The National Recycling Program joint effort “has already made strides in changing behaviors and attitudes towards recycling and waste management.”

So said Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Action and Constituency Empowerment, Senator Dr. Joyelle Clarke in a statement made during the National Assembly held on Tuesday 26th March 2024, having informed that the Cabinet has approved the three-phased ban on single-use plastic items across the Federation as she encouraged the continuation of such behaviours and attitudes towards environmental protection.

“While I need not delve into the pervasive challenge of plastic pollution, I am compelled nonetheless to remind every Kittitian and Nevisian that every small action collectively creates major movements in recycling, upcycling and limiting the use of plastics.”

“The small changes today will lead to incremental improvements in human and environmental health. Our students collected thousands of pounds of plastic bottles last year. Our landfill is bursting at the seams with plastics. What was once thought a viable solution to paper-based products has now become the gravest problems for our oceans,” Dr. Clarke stated.

According to the Environment Minister: “Tuesday, 26 March 2024, marks a significant milestone for environmental protection for St. Kitts and Nevis. This action is a testament to our unwavering commitment to protect our natural environment and foster a sustainable future for all.”

She highlighted that the announcement of this first phase of the ban has been the result of extensive consultations with stakeholders from the private sector to community groups and backed by solid research and evidence of the detrimental impacts of plastic pollution.

As shared by her, the Ministry will present the NCEMA- National Conservation and Environmental Management Bill very shortly.

“This bill will address the legislative needs for supporting the ban on single-use plastics. However, we are also anticipating the tabling of the Environmental Protection Restriction on Single-Use Plastics Bill, which when introduced would outline a comprehensive framework for banning specific plastic items.”

Dr. Clarke said that the implementation of this ban is structured in three strategic phases, ensuring a smooth transition for our citizens and businesses towards more sustainable alternatives.

In addition, she informed that each phase includes a ban on importation on select items, followed by a three-month window leading to a distribution ban.

As shared by her: Phase one-Ban on the importation of single-use plastic t-shirt shopping bags. As of December 31st, 2024, imports of t-shirt shopping bags will be banned in the Federation. This is followed by a prohibition on the sale and distribution of t-shirt plastic bags on March 31st, 2025.

Phase 2-Ban on the importation of foam food containers and plastic straws. Effective April 30th, 2025. The sale and distribution of plastic straws and foam containers will be prohibited starting July 31st, 2025.

Phase 3- Banning the importation of plastic cups, plastic plates, and plastic utensils on August 31st, 2025. A ban on their sale and distribution. Effective November 30th, 2025.

In making reference to the government’s partners in this process, she commented: “Our commitment is further demonstrated through the implementation of the Solid Waste Management and Recycling Project executed with our bilateral partners and the Taiwan ICDF Program, which has led on our National Recycling Program. This joint effort has already made strides in changing behaviors and attitudes towards recycling and waste management.”

Dr. Clarke indicated that “Our success over the next year as we move through each phase requires the collective effort of every citizen, every business, and every visitor to our islands.”

“We look forward and we will support a plastic-free environment…We look to each ministry to collect and recycle and eliminate plastic bottles from your meetings and conferences. Simple collective steps towards a circular economy and a sustainable island state. We call upon you, every citizen, every petitioner and every new vision to employ and embrace alternatives to single use plastics, to think consciously about the products you use and dispose of and to support our local initiatives aimed at preserving our environment,” she encouraged.

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