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EU delegation head welcomes proposed ban on some plastic material, styrofoam containers

Monday, October 22, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, has welcomed plans by the Government to introduce a ban on single use plastic bags and straws and styrofoam containers in an effort to reduce the negative impact of these on the environment.

“We not only recognise and applaud this, but we want to do everything in our power, as the European Union together with [other supporting partners] to help with this and to draw attention to the fact that it [pollution of the environment] cannot continue like this,” Wasilewska said. She made the comment while participating in the EU's beach clean-up exercise at Y-Knot Beach in Port Royal, Kingston, on Saturday.

Among the volunteers were employees of the EU Delegation, and Canada's High Commissioner to Jamaica Laurie Peters.

Wasilewska said the EU plans to partner with the Canadian High Commission, the Port Royal Primary School and the Port Royal community in endeavours aimed at protecting the environment in that region.

“We all have a collective responsibility to act [and] to be vigilant [because] a lot needs to be changed in Jamaica. There has to be education and collective responsibility,” she emphasised. The EU delegation head alluded to documentaries that highlight the environmental hazard posed by plastic material particularly in the seas and oceans where they “are often found in the bellies of fish and other marine life, which eventually becomes part of the food chain”.

“So it is not just that we have a responsibility to look after the environment but, in reality, we have to look after ourselves,” she stated. “It is a big shock, [in terms of] how much plastic and other waste is disposed of by people in the middle of nature, in the middle of highways, and how much goes through the gullies to the ocean and then some are washed up on the beaches,” Wasilewska said.

Speaking with JIS News, Peters told JIS that she was delighted to participate in the beach clean-up.

She said the High Commission has an Environmental Committee which is exploring the possible recycling of plastics to deal with the problem of pollution.

Peters said pivotal to addressing the problem of plastic pollutants is awareness and that “it is not only about keeping Jamaica's beaches clean, but the whole region and the globe itself”.

“We need to act… we all need to be global citizens. So it's a privilege, as guests here in Jamaica, to be able to contribute. But if we can do anything, it is to encourage Jamaican citizens to be really aware, [to] be smart about their purchases and, certainly, about the recycling,” she added.

The day's activity saw participants collecting numerous bags of debris. These included hundreds of plastic bottles and Styrofoam boxes that were strewn along the beach.

The event was part of activities to recognize International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) 2018. The day was observed locally on September 15 under the theme, 'Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica'.

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