STOP the Mandate for Disposable Products in the Virgin Islands

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The call for the use of disposable plates, silverware, and cups begins on June 15th, 2020. It is a part of the VI government’s mandate on the food and beverage industry.

There are many concerns with the new mandate for the use of disposable products in all the restaurants of the Virgin Islands. The environmental impact, the landfills are already full, and the cost to every restaurant to invest in eco-friendly, disposable plates, silverware, and cups.

Single-use plastics have recently become a target for action, the USVI recently placed a ban on disposable, plastic drinking straws and plastic tubular stirrers, which was passed during the 32nd Legislature, went into effect starting on Oct. 1, 2019. But with this new mandate will set us back even further in our fight against plastic and single-use products!

In the territory, it has become evident that plastics are a growing issue in the waters, and they affect precious sea turtles and marine life.

We should consider the following:

-Collecting and transporting used disposable products is energy-intensive (think trash trucks)
Once in a landfill, single-use products may breakdown slowly in the right conditions but their plastics will take hundreds of years resulting in landfills that are wastelands.
-Greenhouse gas release from landfills is a major contributor to global warming.
-Disposable single-use products that don’t make it to landfills pollute the natural environment.
-Incinerating disposable waste will recoup some of the energy but also results in emissions that contribute to global warming and air pollution.
-The sheer volume of disposable products thrown away on a daily basis is hard to fathom (Starbucks alone produces 4 Billion each year).

“It is a start to a greater mindset shift that must occur in order for us to preserve the pristineness of our waters for leisure, food and economic appeal, and the overall impact that our environmental footprint has on climate change and the adverse effects of such — particularly catastrophic hurricanes within our region,” said Sen. Janelle Sarauw.

The next issue is the amount of waste that will be headed to our already full landfills. The territory’s landfills, already overburdened by daily household waste, will be unable to process the extra debris, and much of it will be shipped off-island if necessary.

“Collectively, our failure to dispose of collected solid waste and treated wastewater can and will create a public health hazard,” said Adrian Wade Taylor, interim executive director of the Waste Management Authority.

The final argument is about the new cost to the restaurants to order disposable products. Many restaurants in the Virgin Islands thrive to be eco-friendly and have reduced their single-use product usage. After months of being out of business because of COVID-19, many do not have the means to spend hundreds of extra dollars a week to spend on environmentally friendly, disposable products. Not only that but there is only limited seating available meaning that restaurants are barely breaking even. 

Please sign this petition so we can show the Government Legislature that we want to protect our beautiful islands and help keep our environment protected from additional waste.