Image: Clean up: Planning and Development Minister Penelope Beckles joins volunteers at a recent coastal clean-up, organized by the Ministry of Planning and Development for Earth Day in April.
Saturday June 4, 2022
As Trinidad and Tobago observes World Environment Day with the global community on June 5, Planning and Development Minister Pennelope Beckles, who has responsibility for the environment, is assuring the public that Government is giving attention to the concerning plastic pollution issue.
A national compulsory standard for ‘Compostable and Biodegradable Materials for Food Contact Single-Use Products and Packaging’ is in an advanced stage of development. The Ministry of Planning and Development is represented on the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS) led Committee which has conducted stakeholder consultations with manufacturers and importers. ccording to Minister Beckles, this initiative of the TTBS supports the Ministry of Planning and Development’s aim to further encourage the shift away from single-use plastics within the Food and Beverage sector.
Plastic pollution has a severe and detrimental effect on the health of our ecosystems and environmental resources as well as the social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. Plastics affect the global citizenry and our planet as a whole. This standard, when complete, will be used as a regulatory tool to ensure verification of authenticity of all expanded polystyrene alternative products imported or manufactured within Trinidad and Tobago.
Minister Beckles emphasises that “This institutional reinforcement is a critical step in our fight against plastic pollution nationally. We are further cognizant of the need for a life-cycle approach to plastic pollution, given its integral link to waste management, and this is one of many strides in the shift to sustainable consumption and production.”
In addition to the development of the national standard, Minister Beckles recently held discussions with His Excellency David Málaga, Ambassador Extraordinary of the Republic of Peru to Trinidad and Tobago, centered on the development of an International Legally Binding Instrument to ‘End Plastic Pollution’. Given the transboundary nature of plastic pollution, Minister Beckles and Ambassador Málaga both agreed that it was important that there be cooperation and coordination among countries like Trinidad and Tobago and Peru to prevent plastic pollution and its related risks to human health and environmental well-being. Minister Beckles assured the Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago’s interest in enhancing the bilateral ties and advancing dialogue and cooperation between both countries to end plastic pollution and deal with other mutually beneficial areas.
The Ministry of Planning and Development is doing its part by connecting the goals of Trinidad and Tobago’s National Development Strategy-Vision 2030 and the National Environmental Policy (NEP 2018) which place the Environment at the center of Social and Economic Development, to the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production and Goal 13, Climate Action among others. Projects and initiatives to end plastic pollution and more, directly work to help Government accomplish these goals and enhance citizens’ lives.
Minister Beckles therefore encourages citizens to use this year’s World Environment Day, under the global theme ‘Only One Earth’, to also reflect on how their actions affect the environment and by extension their communities and lives. An unhealthy environment is an unhealthy nation, consequently, citizens have an equal part to play in environmental management. The Planning and Development Minister also reminds citizens of the Planning Ministry’s mantra that ‘Environmental Pride is National Pride’.