End to single use plastic in the Caribbean Netherlands

Photo: State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven and Commissioner James Kroon (Bonaire)

Kralendijk – Caribbean Netherlands bans the use of single use plastic. Therefore Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire signed an agreement with State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven (Infrastructure and Water Management). The intention is, with help from the central government, to quickly put an end to the use of single use plastic in the Caribbean Netherlands. No later than 2021 the three islands want to stop using single use plastic. This is an important step to keep the Islands clean, to prevent plastic soup and with this to protect the nature on and around the Islands.

The three executive councils have signed an appointment with State
Secretary Van Veldhoven to put an end to the use of single use plastic. Van
Veldhoven: “The picture of a turtle with a straw in its nose is a notorious
example of what discarded plastic can do. These turtles are swimming here in the Caribbean Sea. And this step that we now take is also good for the
climate; throwing away plastic after single use and burning it, is simply a
deadly sin.”

For the Islands, this is a next step to deal better with waste and resources. On waste management steps have been taken. Previously the island councils of Bonaire and Saba accepted motions in order to put an end to single use plastic. And volunteers on Saba collected about 400 garbage bags with waste over the past few weeks. Island secretary of Saba Tim Muller: “If you’re landing on Saba the first thing you see is a sign with ‘Saba, the unspoiled queen’. People come here for hiking and diving in our beautiful nature. We simply cannot afford plastic soup. It‘s very good to make this concrete step now, together with St. Eustatius, Bonaire and the central government in order to maintain nature.”

Also for Bonaire and St. Eustatius are the livability of the islands and the protection of the environmental a major motive to end single use plastic. The coral reefs around the islands are known for their beauty, and are important for the economy. On Bonaire alone around 500,000 dives take place annually.

“The government will lead the process however, broad stakeholder participation is required to ensure an integral and sustainable approach. As an island that promotes dive, eco and sustainable tourism, on St. Eustatius we have a shared responsibility to get it right. We should no longer promote the use of single use plastics that are a proven threat to for example our marine environment and by extension our very own existence”, says Government Commissioner Marcolino Franco.

Collaboration to eliminate single use plastic as quickly as possible The three islands will draw up a plan of action within one year, to eliminate single use plastic. The aim is to have the ban take effect in 2021.The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management contributes financially and provides legal expertise, for example on drafting the necessary regulations to ban single use plastic in the Caribbean Netherlands. The experiences from the European Netherlands are also taken into consideration. For instance the results of the recycling of plastic packaging and the ban on free plastic bags.

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