BEST Applauds Minister Roban’s Statement

March 12, 2021

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce said they applaud Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban’s statement regarding the elimination of single-use plastics in Bermuda.

A spokesperson said, “Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce [BEST] applauds the Minister of Home Affairs, The Hon. Walter Roban’s statement in the House on 5 March, 2021 regarding the elimination of single-use plastics in Bermuda. We also support the timeline proposed and the recognition of the need for further public consultation.

“The Minister listed three areas impacted by plastics in his statement: climate change, ocean pollution and human health. We should be aware that these areas are all linked. While most of us now recognize the dangers of climate change, the long timeline makes it difficult for people to understand the need to make urgent changes to mitigate the threat.

“However, the timeline for the health impacts of the plastic chemicals, that we unknowingly consume on a daily basis, is much faster than we will experience from climate change. The most widely used single-use plastics in Bermuda are plastic shopping bags, drink bottles, takeout food containers, cups, straws, stirrers, cutlery and, plates.

“The time for action is now. In the past few years, researchers have linked one chemical class associated with plastics called phthalates to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues. Other chemicals found in plastics are also implicated in health effects.

“Possibly more concerning is the data discussed in the new book, Count Down: ‘How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race’, by Dr. Shanna Swan. The book contains an analysis of over 7500 studies regarding the declining fertility of humans.

“In particular the data indicates that if nothing is done, then sperm counts in western males may reach zero by 2045. The cause of this decline is postulated to include endocrine disrupting chemicals [EDC]. EDCs are contained in many plastics and include phthalates. It is important to note that declining sperm count is only one of the effects of EDCs. These compounds result in a wide range of reproductive effects in both men and women including a general decline in fertility rates.

“It is good therefore that The Minister has recognized the importance of reducing our exposure to plastics. Everyone needs to realize that banning single-use plastics is not just about preventing turtles from choking on plastic bags – though that happens too. In reality, our very existence may actually depend on taking this very small first step to reduce our exposure to these harmful chemicals.”

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