FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. Why is a Single-Use Plastics and Styrofoam Ban important to The Bahamas?
A. Plastic and Styrofoam waste affects human health, animals, and the environment. The overuse of plastics and Styrofoam has resulted in the widespread pollution and contamination of our environment threatening our marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Often found scattered as litter throughout our communities and left on public beaches, particularly after holiday festivities, plastic and Styrofoam litter diminishes the beauty of our islands which attracts millions of tourists annually.
Q. When will the ban be in effect?
A. The Ministry of Environment and Housing created a taskforce comprising of The Ministry of Tourism, The Ministry of Health, The Ministry of Finance, The Customs Department, The University of The Bahamas, The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Federation (BCCEC), The Bahamas Plastic Movement, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), The Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation (BREEF), Atlantis Paradise Island and Baha Mar Ltd., to advance an inclusive national campaign to ban single-use plastics such as plastic shopping bags, straws, food utensils and Styrofoam containers by 2020.
Q. What is the timeline for the phased ban?
A. The Ministry of Environment and Housing has embarked on a nationwide public consultation and education campaign. Public input from these meetings will be used to develop a management plan with the proposed effective date being January 1, 2020.
Q. What does this project mean for the management of the New Providence Landfill and RFP Process?
A. Due to our isolated archipelagic nature, condensed populations and a tourist dominated economy, we are challenged with finding effective solutions to solid waste management. This ban provides an opportunity to reduce plastic and Styrofoam waste sent to landfills. Plastic and Styrofoam containers, which are used for approximately 10 minutes, take between 500 and 1000 years to break down.
Q. How will this ban impact food and retail outlets?
A. The Ministry of Environment and Housing will conduct consultation meetings with retail outlets, restaurants, and hotels. Feedback gathered will assist the Ministry in developing an alternative list that meets the demand and needs of all impacted business operations.
Q. Will the government reduce duty and Value Added Tax?
A. The Customs Department and The Ministry of Finance, both have representatives on the Task Force. The Ministry of Environment is working with them to outline the correct protocol to reduce duty rates on approved alternatives and to identify appropriate incentives for business operations. During consultations, the Ministry will be asking for the public's input on proposed incentive options and approved product alternatives.
Q. Will the public be involved in this process?
A. The Ministry will host Town Hall meetings to engage the general public. Once released, the draft legislation will also be open to public comments. The general public can also send comments, concerns and suggestions to MOEHPLASTICS@BAHAMAS.GOV.BS.
Q. When can we expect to see any legislation for this ban?
A. The draft legislation is complete and currently going through the required government process for approval to be released to the public.
Q. When and where can the public get their hands on the coloring books?
A. You can download the Plastic Free Coloring Book here on our website under the "Resources" section.
Q. Are garbage bags included in the list of banned items?
A. Garbage bags are not included in this phase of the ban. The only items banned as of January 1, 2020 are plastic straws, plastic food utensils, Styrofoam food containers and cups, and plastic bags at point-of-sale.
Q. What will happen to the plastic bags that were purchased by businesses before the ban was implemented?
A. We are proposing that there be a registration process so that businesses can let us know how much stock they have on island. This would help us with tracking the prohibited items, as there will be fines associated with these items in the legislation. We will inform the public if this registration process is approved and implemented.
Q. When will the out Islands receive reusable bags?
A. We intend to visit as many islands as possible. We are currently working to secure sponsorship to obtain more bags for distribution to the public.
Q. How much do these bags cost?
A. The bags that we have been distributing have all been given away free of charge. The Ministry of Environment and Housing does not intend to ever sell the reusable bags that we distribute. You can find other reusable bags available for purchase for different prices at stores across the country.
Q. What are some alternatives to using plastic straws?
A. Reusable straws are being sold around the world using alternative products like bamboo, paper, and other plant-based materials which are compostable and disposable.