PRESS RELEASE – The Saint Lucia Hotel & Tourism Association (SLHTA), in declaring 2016 as the Year of the Environment expressed a firm commitment to strengthening existing good environmental practices as well as firmly advocating for policies and programs that would address the increasing environmental threats facing the island.
To this end, the Association has recently written to the Minister for Sustainable Development, Energy, Science & Technology, Honorable James Fletcher, to express their concerns and fervent desire to see the enactment of legislation aimed at promoting the reuse or recycling of plastic containers and in so doing reduce the alarming degree of pollution caused by plastic refuse.
Regionally there has been a growing commitment to tackling pollution caused by plastics. Plastic waste causes increased flooding and litters our beaches and coral reefs harming the natural wildlife. Recent legislation in Brazil, Puerto Rico and Antigua has brought into effect a ban on the importation and use of all plastic bags. While similar legislation in St Lucia would be welcome in the future, the Association hopes to see in the more immediate short term, the enactment of legislation similar to the Returnable Containers Act in Barbados which levies a 10-20c refundable deposit on beer, soft drink and other beverage containers in order to ensure a high rate of recycling or reuse.
There was a commendable effort made in 2008 with the drafting of the Management of Beverage Containers Act. This act sought to incentivize the return of plastic containers in exchange for the payment of a cash refund. The SLHTA is urging the government to bring this matter back to the forefront and expediently enact legislation that can address the pollution caused by plastic bottles that not only overburden our limited landfills but block our rivers. In declaring 2016 the Year of the Environment, the SLHTA hopes to draw into focus the importance of conserving the island’s fragile ecosystem.
The Association is encouraged by a recent declaration by the Minister for Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology calling for the reduction of littering to limit the impact of climate change. It is therefore the Association’s hope that with this renewed Government interest to reduce littering in an effort to combat climate change, that the Returnable Containers Bill will now be completed and passed so that we can finally tackle the growing plague of plastic which threatens to negatively impact our tourism industry, our primary economic driver at this time.