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Jersey advocate offers to draft laws banning single-use plastics

Jersey advocate offers to draft laws banning single-use plastics

Monday 13 August 2018

Jersey advocate offers to draft laws banning single-use plastics

Monday 13 August 2018

Tired of "fighting his way" into packaged products, a Jersey advocate is hoping to speed up the fight against single-use plastics and has made the unusual offer to draft the laws banning them himself.

Advocate Olaf Blakeley says that something "monolithic" needs to be done to stop excess packaging.

The fight against plastic pollution has been a hot topic since David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 series highlighted its consequences with footage of a turtle tangled up in plastic rubbish leaving many people feeling "haunted." In Jersey, the campaign against plastic pollution has been going strong for over a year thanks to the efforts of local campaigners and eco-minded organisations.

Local eco-activist Sheena Brockie started raising awareness last year with challenge to live a year without waste documented on her blog 'The Good Jersey Life.' She later campaigned local pubs and restaurants asking them to stop using plastic straws as part of the #PlasticFreeJuly campaign.

Video: Local filmmaker Will Robinson and Sheena Brockie released a 15-minute long documentary on a plastic-free lifestyle, in a bid to convince fellow islanders to join in the efforts to achieve ‘Plastic Free Coastline’ status for Jersey.

Earlier this year, Jersey’s former Environment Minister, Deputy Steve Luce, teamed up with Surfers against Sewage and environment campaigners in a bid to make Jersey a largest plastic-free community.

In July, Sheena Brockie challenged islanders of all ages, as well as businesses to live plastic free for a month. Express followed her on a typical shopping trip for tips on how to shop plastic free and revealed that a plastic recycling machine was on its way to the island to be used as an educational tool.

But for some, educating islanders is not enough. Local advocate Olaf Blakeley, who confesses he is not a fan of over-regulation, has offered to draft a law banning single-use plastics.


Pictured: Advocate Olaf Blakeley is offering to draft the legislation banning single-use plastics.

In his latest column in Connect magazine, he said: "For those of you who read my column regularly, you will know I am not a fan of over-regulation. In fact, I would like to see less regulation where it is possible. However, the problem with allowing everyone ‘freedom,’ is that exercising that freedom often impacts on another’s rights, or perhaps better stated, introduces consequences upon others.

"So, for instance, when laws were introduced forcing drivers to wear seat belts: while it could have been left to individual drivers to choose whether or not they wish to travel through their windscreen in a crash, the consequences include consumption of hospital resources, with a further consequence of diverting those resources from others. There is also the argument that some people need to be protected from themselves (‘the state knows better’). 

"Where am I going with all of this? I have been following the campaign ‘plastic free Jersey’ for a time because its goal is something with which I agree. I am totally fed up with plastic packaging (and packaging in general) and I believe something monolithic has to be done urgently to stop excess packaging. 

plastic packaging vegetables (credit: The Good Jersey Life)

Pictured: "I am totally fed up with plastic packaging (and packaging in general)," says Advocate Blakeley.

"I don’t know if it is an ‘age thing’ or if it is a sign of the onset of some sort of mental disorder, but I am discovering that I am talking to myself a lot lately: moaning and complaining each time I try to fight my way into a packaged product which often needs the application of scissors or a utility knife. I’m also fed up with plastic carrier bags, and even more so, those which are not fit for purpose.

"So, we should simply ban the supply of plastic carrier bags at shops. Simple. Yes, it will cause mayhem, but people will soon get used to it.  We should be bold.  Introduce legislation to make it an offence for shops to supply plastic carrier bags to the public.  How great would it be for Jersey to be able to say, “we care about our environment, and we are taking major strides to protecting it?”

"Another benefit (probably just for me) is that it will stop the check-out assistant asking me if I wish to buy a plastic bag, when I clearly don’t require one, because I have a bag which is sitting right there on the check-out staring at them in the face. And, that same legislation will prohibit the supply of plastic drinking straws.  It will also ban the supply of plastic cups or lids unless they are bio-degradable. 

shopping plastic bag

Pictured: Changing habits takes time but legislation could help speed up the process.

"My experience tells me that the public are becoming more and more aware of the unwanted effects of disposable/single-use plastic and are choosing to be more environmentally responsible - and much of this is down to campaigners educating everyone (well done). But, such a change in habit takes time. The process could be speeded up by the introduction of legislation. We do need to be brave and we do need to be bold. 

"I know that introducing legislation can be a slow process. I am also aware those who draft laws are working hard and have much to do.  I’ll make a deal: if the States agree to introduce the legislation, I’ll draft it, if the drafting section of the Law Officers’ Department is too busy. Jersey can hit the headlines nationally by taking brave steps. Who can have rational and persuasive arguments against the bans I suggest?  The major reason for the use of plastic carrier bags and associated ‘stuff’ is convenience. Being responsible and caring about others (including our wildlife) often is inconvenient, but long-term as humans we adjust. 

"So, which States Member is going to bring the proposition I suggest?"

You can read Advocate Olaf Blakeley's columns in Connect every month.

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