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Mar 20, 2019

Plastic Pollution Public Education Campaign launched

The phase out of plastic and Styrofoam is expected to come into effect at the end of this year. Next month, on April twenty-second, the D.O.E. is looking to have the draft legislation passed. And so to prepare the public for this transition to a plastic free Belize, the D.O.E. is embarking on a national education campaign to sensitize the public about why we are banning the use of single use plastic bags and eating utensils.  Reporter Andrea Polanco was today’s launch and tells us more about the campaign.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

“Choose to Refuse Single Use” – it’s the new logo unveiled today as a part of the national public education campaign to promote a plastic free Belize. This logo will be branded on all the awareness materials being used in the next few months leading up to the ban of plastics and Styrofoam in Belize. Minister of Environment Omar Figueroa says the launch of this campaign will play a key role in the banning of single use plastics and Styrofoam.

 

Omar Figueroa, Minister of Environment

Omar Figueroa

“It entails more than just physically banning the importation or the production. It really entails launching this educational campaign because in order for us to succeed, each and every Belizean needs to buy into this initiative. They need to change their way of life everyday in the uses of these single use plastic and Styrofoam. So, the education campaign will be critical to that. It will actually provide a guide on what we need to do; what can be done; what are the options; biodegradable options, reusable options  and that sort of stuff.”

 

The Department of Environment will be pushing the campaign through TV and radio ads, talk show appearances, billboards, social media, posters and other mediums. To get young Belizeans to buy in, they will even go into schools to educate students about why they should stop using plastics and Styrofoam and what they can use to replace the harmful products.

 

Dr. Percival Cho

Dr. Percival Cho, CEO, Ministry of Environment

“The message is clear. We need to phase out and rid ourselves of certain plastic products. At the basic element of the message that is what is there. The group agreed that we should take this opportunity to speak about and educate the public about plastics in general; other plastics not included in the phase out – like plastic bottles and really put some attention there and call some attention to how we use plastics. And then start to instill in the general public the need to look at how we attach ourselves to these things and how potentially we cannot use them and reduce our dependency on these things.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, we want to see a behavior change in the public?”

 

Dr. Percival Cho

Yes, exactly. So, it is to stimulate a behavioral change over time. Of course, it will take a long time to instill that and so this campaign will be launched over a few months. So, we will be going to schools; work with the media houses; appear on the TV morning shows and air a lots of ads; essentially a media blitz over the next few months.”

The reason the Ministry is phasing out the single use plastics and Styrofoam is because it is bad for the environment. After they are used, single use plastic bags, cups, plates and eating utensils create a major pollution issue. They accumulate in the natural environment where they affect animals; create an unsightly problem and cost the country a lot of money in solid waste management. Around two hundred million of these products are on the Belizean market every year – it is an astounding number for a small country – but Minister of Environment Omar Figueroa is confident that Belize can beat plastic pollution.

 

 Omar Figueroa

“It is indeed staggering and if we don’t do something now, the problem will be worse as we move along. So, given our small size and our population size as well, I think we are in a position where we can do this right and where we can get it right.”

 

Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

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