Biodegradable Plastics – Can We Legislate The Solution?
The tourists at the Hilton and Accra Hotels stroll out onto pristine beaches every morning – dragging kids, sunblock and the latest John Grisham novel onto the clean sand where they plunk themselves down for another day in paradise. The Brits and Canadians always politely start their drink requests with something like “May I trouble you for…” while the friendly Yanks mostly yell a version of “Hey there, little lady. Howse about one of them there pineapple rum drinks with the little umbrellas?”
According to our friend Clive, the Germans have a very different style.
But they all share the same misperception that our tourist beaches are somehow representative of beaches throughout the island. They don’t realize that the clean up crew has been out at 5am to make everything just so – which is just good business as we want those folks to return home with memories of beautiful Barbados.
A walk on a “real” Barbados beach can be a different experience, especially after a bit of wind. In a word: Plastic. Plastic from all over the world floats onto our beaches – bottles, lines, nets, flipflops, shopping bags, Barbie dolls without heads, food containers, footballs and just about anything else made of plastic can be found at the high-water mark.
And it is not just the beaches where the plastic garbage is a problem. Even miles out to sea, it sometimes seems that we are fishing in the middle of a floating garbage dump. Last May, one of our friends lost an engine when some floating plastic line got sucked into the water impeller. Before he realized it, the cooling intake became blocked and the engine cooked. (Never mind that he should have been looking once in a while at those funny little round dials that say “engine temp”!)
Landfills Full Of Plastic Garbage
Barbados and other Caribbean countries bury tonnes and tonnes of plastic garbage at landfills, but new biodegradable plastics could take off some of the pressure. Some jurisdictions have mandated the use of biodegradable plastics, and we say that it is about time Barbados did so as well.
On Tuesday evening, the ACP/EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly at the Hilton heard from a manufacturer of biodegradable plastics. The Barbados Advocate carried the story Biodegradable Plastics A Solution To Overflowing Landfills, and we also found an excellent article at Wired Magazine: Two Words: Biodegradable Plastic.
How About It, Environment Minister Thompson?
Do you have the leadership necessary for Barbados to mandate biodegradable plastics in appropriate applications?
BFP Photo by Shona – Accra Beach after a storm.