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. 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 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. Effective December 31, 2019 the prohibited items will be banned from import into country. Following this, businesses will have a 6 month transition period to get rid of their existing stock before fines come into effect. As of July 1, 2019 fines will be imposed on persons and/or businesses found in possession of the prohibited items pursuant to section 4 of the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill 2019.
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.
Q. are balloons going to be banned?
A. No. While balloons will not be banned, the release of these into the atmosphere will be prohibited and subject to a fine pursuant to section 5 of the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill 2019.
Q. will businesses charge fees for bags at checkout?
A. Yes. Effective January 1, 2020, businesses will be required under law, to implement a bag check out fee. The fee can range from 25cents to 1 dollar per bag, excluding VAT. The fee will be charged at check-out and must be displayed on the receipt as a line item. This does not apply to reusable bags.
Q. WILL COMPOSTABLE SINGLE USE PLASTIC BAGS BE ALLOWED?
A. Yes, compostable bags that meet the ASTM standards will be allowed until 2022. Following this period, all point of sale compostable plastic bags will be banned. These standards are available in the revised customs code.
Q. HOW WILL THIS BAN IMPACT FOOD AND RETAIL OUTLETS?
A. The impact on food and retail outlets is expected to be minimal. All of the proposed banned items have readily available, environmentally friendly alternatives currently on the shelves of the major retailers and distributors.
Q. WILL THE GOVERNMENT REDUCE DUTY AND VALUE ADDED TAX?
A. The Ministry of Finance, through the Department of Customs, has assisted in creating new tariff codes for the proposed alternatives. These items will be duty free. However, as a disincentive, the duty on compostable bags has increased to 45%. VAT remains at 12%.
Q. WILL THE PUBLIC BE INVOLVED IN THIS PROCESS?
A. Yes. The Ministry has hosted several Town Hall meetings to engage the general public. Additionally, we have been, and continue to, visit business and small groups to educate them about the ban. The public has also been invited to provide comments to the draft legislation. All of the suggestions were taken into consideration for the final version of the bill recently tabled in the House of Assembly.
We continue to reach out to the general public. If you would like to schedule a meeting with any of the representatives from the Plastics Team, please reach out to us at the contact information below:
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