RG Opinion article by Sophia Collis, BEST Summer Intern 2019
*This is the first in a series of articles addressing the need to reduce plastic waste in Bermuda
“Plastic, a material invented to last for ever, can no longer be used to make products intended to be thrown away. There is no away.”
The excessive production, usage and disposal of plastic materials has serious consequences for the environment. Every year, about eight million metric tonnes of it ends up in the ocean, where it can harm fish and wildlife through ingestion and entanglement. Plastic permeates the food chain, threatens ecosystems and may harm human health.
The reduction of plastic usage has therefore become a significant global challenge. The number of public policies on single-use plastics has more than tripled since 2010, with many more expanding to include other disposable plastic products.
Policies on controlling single-use plastics come mainly in the form of either bans or levies, with the former being predominant. Single-use plastics are prevalent in Bermuda’s restaurants and stores. Of the 33 food-service businesses surveyed, only 11 have begun efforts in reducing plastic consumption by introducing biodegradable takeout products, ie, paper straws, corn starch cutlery, compostable produce bags, paper bio-bowls.
The majority of businesses continue to use single-use plastic products for takeaway use. Twenty out of the 33 commercial retail stores surveyed use plastic carry-out bags when customers purchased a product. Only eight stores offered bags made from biodegradable or recycled paper. Interestingly, two shops provide reusable bags made of recycled materials and one shop sells reusable bags for a fee of $2.
BEST proposes two options by which the Government of Bermuda can approach this pressing issue.