For the upcoming St. Maarten Flavors culinary month, organizers call on participants to use reusable and recyclable kitchen wares and utensils where possible. This can serve as practice for January 1st, when government has announced its enforcement of a ban of plastic and Styrofoam wares. This was stated in an internal e-mail to participating restaurants by the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), endorsed by main St. Maarten Flavors supporters St. Maarten Tourism Bureau and PDG Supplies.
47 Restaurants and bars now take part in the St. Maarten Flavors program, offering three course signature dinners at $ 49 and one course dinners and cocktail combinations for $ 17.50 to residents and visitors alike. With the plastic ban enforcement coming up this January, the organizers see the month as a unique moment to experiment with alternatives to waste streams. As many countries worldwide have embarked on plastic bans and subsequent enforcement, prices of sustainable alternatives have already significantly dropped over time. Still, as a stimulus, program supporter PDG Supplies will offer fiber-based biodegradables for a reduced price during the November St. Maarten Flavors program to contribute to this cause.
Though a unanimous vote in parliament realized a plastic bag ban on July 2021, enforcement has not been put in place as yet. The enforcement void causes wholesalers, restaurants, and retailers to be hesitant to order large scale orders of recyclables that would make the price competitive to single use plastic, as less change-motivated competitors are given an advantage by using plastics and Styrofoam without reprisal. Government promised to enforce the 2021 law as of 2023.
The tourism bureau has been running anti-littering campaigns on St. Maarten beaches but endorses to best solve this problem at the source. In its turn, during its last St. Maarten Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART), SHTA highlighted green initiatives by means of a strategically located “Green Room”, allowing free access to all suppliers making St. Maarten’s tourism economy more sustainable. Its all-round business tradeshow St. Maarten Innovations, Initiatives, and Industries Link-Up Event (SMILE) has endorsed recyclables by only using recyclables at all on its opening events and lunches.
PDG Supplies has halted all prohibited Styrofoam containers sales already since mid-2021. CEO Mireille Dropvat: “The most sustainable way of serving food, of course, remains using reusable plates and cleaning them after use. When it pertains to the use of Styrofoam and single use plastics, sustainable alternatives are often not just better for nature, but can be more appealing too. Bamboo and palm leaves serving solutions can often make food look more attractive and promote an establishment commitment to a more sustainable future. Prices are also no longer good excuses as the increase in costs of raw petroleum-based material and the larger production of fiber-based solutions brings Styrofoam and many sustainable items to the same price level. But perhaps the most important industry driving force behind the replacement of single use non sustainable products comes directly from the visiting customers themselves being more sensibilized to the issue and favoring eco-responsible businesses more often.
In addition to the advised use of recycling of utensils and other food wares, SHTA asks to reuse and recycle materials provided by the St. Maarten Flavors program. The 47 restaurants collecting their St. Maarten Flavors promotional materials at the SHTA office, receive a letter requesting to return the materials in December for reuse and recycling. It has done so successfully for its 2022 SMILE event already in conjunction with St. Maarten Flavors supporter Trakx Design of Cole Bay.