Sheena Brockie, who won the 2018 Pride of Jersey award for Environmentalist of the Year, said that public awareness of the damage caused by plastics to the environment is growing and Jersey can set an example for other islands by achieving ‘plastic-free’ status.
The Plastic Free Jersey team has launched a number of ‘plastic free kits’ – different information packs for homes, schools, businesses, events organisers and communities to reduce their use of the substance.
Alderney has already achieved plastic-free status and Guernsey is working towards it also. Environmentalists hope to work together so that the entire Channel Islands achieve a unified plastic -free status.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that just six per cent of plastic bottles in Jersey are currently recycled and Emma Richardson-Calladine, the States recycling manager, said to improve this statistic, kerbside recycling schemes, which are currently only available in six of the 12 parishes, need to be made available for all Islanders.
Ms Brockie said that while a number of good schemes are already in place, such as recycling centres and workplace initiatives, she agreed with this view.
‘Kerbside collection is so important because you need it to be as easy as possible for people to recycle. If you make collections available for everyone then you are going to get a lot more people on board with recycling,’ she said.
Plastic Free Jersey has spoken to about 300 businesses, 100 of which have committed to their initiative, and explained that there are a number of ways that plastic usage can be reduced by firms.
Ms Brockie said that reducing the consumption of single-use plastics was more important than recycling the substance.
‘It is a finite resource that comes from oil, so it takes millions of years to be formed, and then there is the cost of manufacturing, the electricity, shipping and water that goes into it,’ she said.
‘I don’t think the price of plastic truly reflects its costs. It is a wonder substance that is very finite but we are using it with total disregard.’
She added: ‘Since the BBC documentaries the Blue Planet and Drowning in Plastics people are starting to realise the environmental impact that plastic pollution has, particularly in our oceans.
‘When it gets into the seas it doesn’t degrade, it stays intact for hundreds of years and it breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces, which end up being consumed by animals.’
During a public hearing on the matter of reducing Jersey’s use of plastics, Environment Minister John Young said that a proposition to convert the States to a ‘plastic-free parliament’ is due to be lodged shortly.
Earlier this year, the UK government announced plans to make its parliament plastic-free by the end of next year. This includes eliminating the use of almost all single-use plastics, such as coffee cups, bags and water bottles.