Careless dumping of single-use plastics harming the environment -Department of Environment

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of Environment (DOE) is calling on citizens to refrain from the careless dumping of garbage, particularly single-use plastics, along Seawalls and other public spaces.

During a visit to the area aback the Marriott Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown, Stakeholder Management Coordinator, DOE, Aretha Forde highlighted that most of the garbage dumped at the location and many other sites comprise mainly of harmful plastics.

This, she noted, is harming the environment as single-use and other plastics are non-biodegradable, which means they cannot break down or decay for many years.

“There is no nutrient to return to the soil, this means when the plastic finally breaks down, it breaks down by light, by a process we call photodegradation and so those smaller pieces end up in our waterways,” Forde said.

The smaller pieces of plastic are often eaten by marine life including fish, which are either poisoned by the chemicals contained in the plastic or are eaten by humans, who then become exposed to the toxic chemicals.

The DOE Coordinator noted that scientific studies have shown that the chemicals in these plastics can cause hormone imbalance and certain types of cancers in humans.

Guyana is going ‘green’ and according to Forde, there is no room for single-use plastics and other materials similar to plastics that are “environmentally unfriendly.”

To raise awareness, the department will embark on a series of national consultations with various stakeholders especially the private sector to inform them about the impending ban on single-use plastics.

“To kick-start the process, what we have learnt from experience that there are several processes that need to be ongoing before we draft legislation,” she pointed out.

The ban on single-use plastics, which is expected to take effect within three years, was proposed to the Cabinet by the DOE. It will prevent the manufacture and sale of single-use plastics in Guyana.

The department will also be working with the private sector to find suitable alternatives to the plastics, which include black and coloured plastic bags, plastic forks, spoons, cups, water bottles and single-use plastic items.

“We need to get the message out to the students, they are the best carriers of positive messages especially about the environment and we need the general public to come on board,” she noted, adding that citizens will also determine the success of the initiative.

By: Stacy Carmichael.

Images: Kennyann Bacchus.

Fact: Humans buy about one million plastic bottles per minute in total.