Thursday, May 30, 2024

San Pedro starts Township week promoting zero tolerance for the use of plastic and styrofoam


On Wednesday, November 23rd, Area Representative Honourable Andre Perez and Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez and his team promoted using biodegradable products, such as groceries bags, at a presentation at the San Pedro Lions Den. The enforcement will see reusable bags available at the different establishments for around 50 cents. The populace and business sector are encouraged to make this their standard practice to avoid using plastic and styrofoam items and give back to the island town community, which turns 38 on Sunday, November 27th. The demonstration emphasized how hazardous plastic can be for fragile marine ecosystems like those around the island, thus, the importance of getting everyone on this campaign.

The event saw welcoming remarks from Councilor Johnnia Duarte and Marina Kay, who opened the floor for the Honourable Perez. The Area Representative said that as San Pedro turns 38 years since it became a municipality, it is an opportunity to start a new path. “We are aiming for more economic prosperity, but to move forward, we cannot only depend on our leaders,” said Perez. “Yes, we must lead, but leadership is much stronger when we surround ourselves with a very proactive community. The Participation of the community is important.” Perez called the islanders to note that since the legislation against plastic products is now in effect, it is time for everyone to do their part. He also asked everyone to join the meaningful steps toward the change of keeping the island clean and plastic free.
The Deputy Chief Environmental Officer, Edgar Ek, was also present at the event. He went over the legislation, the Environmental Protection Regulation Act. Ek said this regulation targets single-use plastic items, which no retailer or wholesaler should be importing to distribute in the country. The regulation was enacted in January 2020, but its full enforcement was affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As per the regulation, he explained that the following items are prohibited by law: Single-use Styrofoam and plastic “clamshells,” Single-use Styrofoam and plastic plates, bowls, and cups and lids, Single-use plastic forks, knives, spoons, sporks, and cutlery, Single-use plastic carrier bags commonly referred to as shopping bags and/or T-shirt bags, and Single-use plastic drinking straws.
Ek said that the government is also implementing mechanisms to screen biodegradable products before they are distributed across the country. Anyone interested in importing such items needs to get a license from the Department of Environment and register the biodegradable products. EK said biodegradable products are the alternative now, and he hopes everyone supports this campaign. “Plastics are hazardous for the environment; they are not just bad for the marine environment, but for our health as well because some research has found out that there are microplastics in certain fish species that we consume,” said Ek. The event was also attended by a few business owners, who supported the project and hope that there is proper enforcement for the legislation to be successful. They are committed to providing their customers with biodegradable products when they are available.
A representative of Creative Marketing Belize took the opportunity to introduce their reusable bags. The bags were showcased, and store owners at the event were informed that they could place orders with the bags bearing their logos. According to the presentation, the bags are biodegradable, strong, and reliable for shopping.

Following the closing remarks from Mayor Nuñez, a trip was taken to the lagoon side of the island, where plenty of garbage was observed among the mangroves. Some areas were saturated with non-biodegradable rubbish thrown among the mangroves and near the sea. Perez said there are plans to tackle such eye sores, and in collaboration with the San Pedro Town Council, they hope to start penalizing those responsible for the illegal dumping.

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