Letters to the Editor

Church community supports ban as positive first step

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Effective January 1, 2019, the Government of Jamaica imposed a ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of specific categories of plastic packaging materials. Single-use plastic carrier/shopping bags, expanded polystyrene foam (styrofoam) and plastic drinking straws are amongst the most commonly used items that have been banned. The objective of the ban has been widely posited as seeking to minimise the extent to which those items are found in the waste stream; that is, at the formal dump sites, at other land-based areas not designated as dumps, in gullies as well as negatively impacting rivers and coastal environments.

The Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) is of the view that the 'spirit' of the ban will support and endorse some fundamental Christian environmental stewardship principles including but not limited to:

1. An acknowledgement that all elements of the created order are of intrinsic worth and should be valued. The aesthetic integrity of the land and aquatic environments is to be preserved.

2. An endorsement of the need for humans to care for all of creation as given in the Genesis mandate.

3. An approach that is almost non-anthropocentric at the heart and places 'others' (including other living and non-living forms) at the centre of focus.

There is, however, ultimately a human benefit. The extent to which the ban will positively impact the reduction in the volume of plastic waste in the country is unknown, but it is an initiative that will be encouraged and adopted by the church community. We are aware of the deleterious effect that plastics have been known to have on marine life as well as humans.

The JCC therefore congratulates the Government on this first step to positively change the dynamics of solid waste management in the country, which we consider to be a significant issue. The Church supports this positive first step, but urges the Government to move quickly to develop a more comprehensive programme of solid waste management in the country. This move should be of importance to public health, building climate resilience, improving the quality of life of our people and providing opportunities for economic growth and job creation.

The council acknowledges the misunderstanding, uncertainty and confusion which has been evident in some sections of the society, suggesting the need for further education. The JCC therefore urges the Government to provide more information on how the ban will be rolled out as well as to encourage the production and access to affordable eco-friendly alternatives which can make the transition easier for both retailers and consumers.

Rev Gary Harriott

General secretary

Jamaica Council of Churches


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