‘All single use plastics to be banned eventually,’ Minister Cosgrow reassures NA |21 June 2019
Following a request from the National Assembly for more information on SI 21 of 2019 which calls for the ban on the importation, production and sale of plastic straws, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change (MEECC) Wallace Cosgrow appeared before the National Assembly on Wednesday to answer members’ queries and detail future policy actions geared towards addressing environmental issues.
In a statement to the Assembly, Minister Cosgrow recounted that the ban on single-use plastic straws which was scheduled to take effect on June 1, 2019, was officially announced on World Environment Day on June 5, 2018. The relevant document was tabled last year before the cabinet of ministers who recommended that regulations be drafted to implement the ban and to raise awareness within different groups in Seychelles.
The majority of questions forwarded by the assembly centred on the exceptions included in the regulations which include a list of single-use plastics exempted from the regulations. Such include re-sealable zip lock bags, cling film used for food packaging and plastic wrapping rolls used to wrap luggage at the airport.
Members including leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Wavel Ramkalawan, pointed out that plastic straws found on single-serving juice packets are not covered by the ban and requested a possible timeframe in which the ministry and government intends to impose a total ban on all single-use plastics.
In response, Minister Cosgrow assured the assembly that a total ban on all single-use plastics will be implemented gradually so as to give the public time to adjust and to allow retailers and suppliers to make the necessary arrangements.
“It is in the interest of the general public to impose the ban gradually. The majority of importers go through a middle man rather than the manufacturer. We will continue with our research to find practicable solutions for our retailers and for the public in general. To not delay the process, we have decided to impose the ban on plastic straws sold or distributed independently but we will continue and we will find a solution to address plastic straws on juice boxes,” Minister Cosgrow stated.
Bernard Georges, the member for Les Mamelles, suggested that the ministry should also try to tackle and find alternatives to plastic water bottles and packaging on imported products, as they also present an environmental menace and asked what the ministry will do to expand the actions to include water bottles, plastic packaging.
Simon Gill also suggested that the ministry set a timeline of one-year to implement a total ban on single-use plastic products, giving local suppliers and importers enough time to find eco-friendly alternatives.
Leader of government business Charles de Commarmond also proposed that the ministry revises its recycling incentives in a bid to raise awareness and encourage the general public to be more environmentally-conscious.
In concluding, Minister Cosgrow noted that the government is dedicated in tackling environmental issues through numerous projects and policies.
He affirmed that more emphasis is needed to sensitise the public towards becoming more environmentally-conscious, for instance through more focused and visible campaigns through national media.
He also stated that the government will consider monetary incentives for recycling.
“Plastics have a high calorific value which when burned, emits lots of energy and can hopefully be used in the ‘waste to energy’ project to be implemented in the near future, or to explore other options to recycle plastic products,” Minister Cosgrow asserted.
SI 21 makes provision for the importation, distribution and sale of non-plastic straws which includes paper, bamboo, sugarcane and metal straws. Bio-degradable plastic straws are not permitted under the regulations as they are constituted of some plastic materials which can only be composted with industrial machinery not available locally.