SKN to adopt ban on single-use plastics

Federal Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Climate Action and Constituency Empowerment, Dr. Joyelle Clarke has announced that St. Kitts and Nevis will have a complete ban on single-use plastics by 2025. 

Single-use plastic products include plastic and polystyrene food and beverage containers, bottles, straws, cups, cutlery and disposable plastic bags that are designed for or intended to be used once and discarded.

Addressing the National Assembly on Tuesday, the senator said once completed, St. Kitts and Nevis will join Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Haiti, Barbados, St. Lucia and seven other Caribbean nations which have already banned single-use plastics. 

“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.

“The legislative framework includes a close partnership with Customs and Excise. Empowered under the Customs Act, the Customs Department will play a crucial role in restricting the importation of selected banned items, ensuring that our borders serve as the first line of defence against plastic pollution,” Clarke explained. 

In addition to the well established negative impact of plastic products on the environment, Senator Clarke noted that microplastics pose a significant health risk to humans.

“Each year, for ten years, a single beach clean up in St. Kitts would remove up to 3000 pounds of plastics from our coast. 

“Our diet, no matter how conscientious, has traces of cancer-related microplastics. 

“St. Kitts and Nevis must now do its part to protect lives and livelihoods,” she said.

The single-use plastic ban will be implemented in three phases over the period 31st December, 2024 to  30th November, 2025.

In the first phase, the importation of plastic T-shirt shopping bags will be banned effective 31st. December, 2024 with the distribution and sale of these items being banned on 31st March, 2025.

The second phase will see the implementation of a ban on the import of plastic straws and styrofoam food containers on 30th April, 2025. The distribution and sale of these items will come into effect on 31st July, 2025. 

Finally, in the third phase, single-use plastic cups, plates, and utensils will be banned from being imported effective 31st August, 2025, followed by a total ban on local distribution and sale effective 30th November, 2025.

As the government moves to take legislative steps to eliminate the threat posed by single-use plastics, the environment minister remarked that the effort will require the participation of all stakeholders in the Federation. 

“April 22, 2024, Earth Day, also sees an unwavering global commitment to end plastic pollution for the sake of human and planetary health, demanding a sixty percent reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040. 

“Madam Speaker, we do not act alone in banning single-use plastics, the Ministry of Environment… cannot transition alone. Our success over the next year, as we move through each phase, requires the collective efforts of every citizen, every business and every visitor to our islands,” she said.

Senator Clarke noted that the government intends to ensure that the transition is as seamless as possible. To this end, the Ministry of Finance is considering offering concessions on the importation of biodegradable replacements for the banned plastic items. 

St. Kitts and Nevis is being supported in its move to ban single-use plastics by the Republic of China on Taiwan and Canada. It also enjoys the widespread support of the local business sector including hotels, restaurants and supermarkets.

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