Government officials, civil societies, academia and others are being called upon to take personal responsibility in the ongoing thrust to reduce plastic pollution.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Health Minister made the call while addressing an international forum to end plastic pollution in cities. The address also coincides with the commemoration of Monday’s global observance of World Environment Day.
Joseph said, “Plastic footprint has increased since the early 1950s, due to its durability, lightness, and low production cost. This has now caused catastrophic problems in our marine ecosystems, and human and environmental health including the transboundary movement of marine plastics and microplastics”.
He said in order to address the issue leaders and others would have to be held accountable for pushing the agenda forward since the waste produced is on the account of what we consume and use on a daily basis.
“We are in an era of environmental tragedy where our future generations would not be able to have experiences which we have today due to the battle with Climate Change,” Joseph noted
He stated further that the production of plastic is from fossil fuel feedstocks, which release an array of toxic substances into the air and water, including those with known health impacts like cancer, neurotoxicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and impairment of the immune system.
He recommends the promotion of adequate and sustainable waste management, dealing with the problem of littering and illegal dumping of waste which covers plastic waste, and improving waste management practices in order to ensure waste is managed in an environmentally sound manner.
In 2016, Antigua and Barbuda became the first country in the region to ban single-use plastic bags. Legislations were also implemented to address the entry of certain classes of plastic products and to address the issue of litter including plastic waste.
He said the country continues to be a leading pioneer in the fight against marine plastic pollution.