Officials say anti-litter laws are not enough

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Antigua and Barbuda recently passed new laws to govern littering on the twin island, but Minister for Health, Wellness and the Environment Molwyn Joseph has told the United Nations (UN) that anti-litter legislation will not suffice in addressing the magnitude of the problem.

“Our consumption of single use plastic items, considering that we are only approximately 100,000 in population, was in millions of bags. When my government emphasized the proper disposal of waste and passed anti-litter legislation it was obvious that those measures were not enough. The problem was too large and beyond the scale of Antigua and Barbuda,” Joseph said.

The Health Minister was addressing a press briefing

at UN headquarters in

New York yesterday afternoon, when he and President of the UN General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés declared the ineffectiveness of laws and programs in bringing an end to pollution.

Other persons in attendance at the press briefing were Mona Juul, the Permanent Representative of Norway, and special guest Ashanti who will be the headliner at the upcoming ‘Play it Out’ concert aimed at tackling plastic pollution.

 Joseph also said that human and animal life in Antigua and Barbuda continues to be affected by plastic and that cannot continue. This comes just a few weeks after the Litter Control and Prevention Bill was enforced after it was passed in February this year to replace the previous Litter Act.

“We have all seen the images of animal life being impacted by plastics from whales to turtles to the very fish we consume. The ocean is now polluted, marine life is being destroyed, our consumption of plastic from the ocean is in effect killing us too. We are literally eating and drinking plastic on a daily basis,” the Health Minister said.

Garcés added that the challenge with plastics is one that spans the entire globe.

“Plastic pollution has very quickly and very urgently become one of the defining issues or our times and I am not exaggerating. While we have known for decades that plastic takes a long time to degrade and we believe that recycling programs were addressing this gap, we now know that it has been far too little,” Garcés said.

According to Espinosa, “Almost one trillion single use plastic bags are used worldwide every year, that’s two million a minute and the average time that a plastic is used for is just 12 minutes and then we throw it away so only nine percent of plastics are recycled”.

The ‘Play it Out’ concert, set for 1st June in Antigua, will purportedly assist in lessening the prevalence of plastic pollution.

Along with Ashanti, the concert will be co-headlined by Machel Montano, the so-called ‘Soca King of the World’.

The UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador and Grammy-nominated German DJ/producer Robin Schulz.

The event will also feature top local artists including Ricardo Drue and Claudette “CP” Peters.

The UK-based Kanneh-Masons group – one of whom performed at the wedding last year of Britain’s Prince Harry to Meghan Markle – are also on the show’s line-up.  (Latrishka Thomas)

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