Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 13, 2019 (SKNIS): Director in the Department of Environment, June Hughes, says that the main challenge which has impacted the environment in St. Kitts and Nevis is plastic pollution as a result of single use plastics.
During the radio and television programme “Working for You,” on World Environment Day (June 5), Ms. Hughes stated that there are a number of challenges to the local environment.
“We have a challenge with littering, pollution … indiscriminate dumping and we also have a challenge with plastics… and the impact which single use plastics are having on the island,” she said.
In speaking about the harm single use plastics have on the environment, she highlighted their inability to biodegrade, which can pose a threat to humans, animals, sea creatures, and plant life.
“Once [plastic] enters the environment, it does not go away easily. UV (ultraviolet) radiation has an impact on plastics. If you put a plastic bag into the sun it breaks down over time, [however] it does not biodegrade. And so, it basically gets into smaller and smaller particles which are ingested by us, by plants, by animals and has a [negative] impact on our bodies and the environment,” Ms. Hughes said.
Ms. Hughes said that plastics degrade very slowly, with a fishing line taking up to 600 years to degrade. She went on to say that “about 8.3 billion tons of plastics entered the environment; it has been produced since the 1950’s and only about 9% of that has been recycled.”
She also pinpointed that “about 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year.”
In the statistics posted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) it is revealed that “plastic packaging accounts for about half of the plastic waste in the world.”