The Public Entity Saba, represented by Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, and State Secretary of Infrastructure and Water Management Stientje van Veldhoven on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management signed a declaration of intent on Monday, July 15 to phase out single-use plastics on Saba, starting next year.
The objective of the agreement, which was signed at the Government Administration Building during the State Secretary’s visit to Saba, serves to reduce the littering on the island as a result of single-use plastics and to limit the adverse consequences of these plastic products on the environment. These single-use plastics include polystyrene (Styrofoam) food containers, plastic bags, cutlery, plates, cups and straws.
According to the agreement, the Public Entity will draft a plan in 2019 to facilitate the phasing out of single-use plastic products. The Public Entity will be in charge of the execution of this plan, which takes effect in 2020.
The Ministry of I&W will make (legal) expertise available to the Public Entity to draft this plan and associated legislation, as well as expertise in the area of behavioral change and communication to reduce the use of single-use plastics. The Ministry will make 40,000 euros available for the drafting and execution of this plan.
Plastic littering is a universal problem and leads to, among other things, plastic soup, large accumulations of plastics in the oceans. Single-use plastics that are imported on Saba are an important source of littering. Plastic bags and polystyrene food containers that end up on the hills and in the sea cause a threat to the natural environment and marine life.
Island Governor Johnson called the signing of the declaration of intention an “important first step” to get rid of single-use plastic products. State Secretary Van Veldhoven said she was “very happy” with the accord. “Plastics should not be littering our beaches and polluting our oceans. It should be recycled and not end up in the environment. Saba has taken the courageous step to stop the use of single-use plastics. Together with the Public Entity Saba, we will strive to end single-use plastics and tackle the plastic soup.”
Saba’s Executive Council has the ambition to tackle littering as a result of single-use plastic products. The Island Council in September 2018 adopted a motion with unanimous support requested the Executive Council to start the trajectory to ban single-use plastics. The motion called for consult with stakeholders and to develop legislation that will minimize and eliminate where possible to importation, distribution, sale and use of these products.
The new water bottling plant outside St. John’s, once operational, will also help to reduce plastics. Built with the financial assistance of the Ministry of I&W, the water bottling plant, to be called Saba Splash, will produce water in reusable bottles and limit the importation of plastic water bottles.
At Monday’s signing ceremony, Commissioner Bruce Zagers mentioned the Keep Saba Clean island-wide clean-up campaign which just concluded on July 13. During this four-week campaign, the four villages and surrounding areas were cleaned by enthusiastic volunteers.