The Gibraltar government has joined forces with several organisations and the local business community in a major initiative to reduce the use of plastic.
The Department of the Environment will be working closely with the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) and the Nautilus Project and Environmental Safety Group (ESG)on the project, and numerous local businesses have now stopped offering plastic bags to their customers altogether, while Morrisons, Eroski and M&S have all agreed to substantially reduce the use of plastic bags in general and to do away with all single-use plastic bags.
The government had already taken steps to reduce the use of plastic bags earlier this year by increasing the charge on them to 10p, and it says it will continue to do so. John Cortes, the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, says the Gibraltar government will also soon be introducing legislation to ban the importation of products which contain microbeads.
At the press conference, he said “I am incredibly excited in seeing how the government, business and NGOs have all recognised the importance of preventing plastic from getting into the environment and how we can all work together. This is something that is very real and relevant to Gibraltar given that we are virtually surrounded by sea that is rich in wildlife. This means that each and every plastic bag that gets into the sea could directly affect the wildlife around us. Our actions can and will make a difference, and I call on all businesses to join this movement and get rid of plastic.”
Plastic has become one of the world's greatest dangers to the environment in general and wildlife in particular. Plastic bags were first introduced in the 1970s, and now between 500 billion and one trillion are used worldwide every year. Experts estimate that up to one million birds and 100,000 marine fauna are killed every year because of plastic debris.