Single-Use Plastics ‘To Be Banned By 2020’
By Denise Maycock
Tribune Freeport Reporter
DRAFT legislation is in place for the ban of Styrofoam and single-use plastics, with a target date of implementation by 2020, according to Environment Minister Romauld Ferreira.
While in Grand Bahama last week, the minister said officials will soon embark on an aggressive public relations campaign.
He noted Styrofoam and plastics are a threat to the environment, particularly the ocean where they can be ingested by fish and other marine life.
“Our target date is next year. We will begin a very aggressive public relations campaign, you will see that roll out, and that should happen within weeks,” he told The Tribune.
“We have draft legislation in place and we are currently speaking with related government agencies such as the Royal Bahamas Police Force, (Department of) Customs, and others that have an interest and a role to play in leading this charge,” he said.
Mr Ferreira stressed that the real issue is that Styrofoam and plastic ultimately end up in the ocean.
“It has been estimated now in terms of micro-plastics if we continue with what we doing we will end up with more micro-plastics in the ocean than fish,” he said.
“When we launched the programme we were fully aware that as an island nation we must do our part. And sometimes we believe that we are insulated from these things, but they have actually found these micro-plastics in the fish we eat—fish caught locally. And so it impacts all of us,” he said.
Mr Ferreira indicated the ban goes hand in hand with the clean-up campaign launched by the Ministry of Environment. The ‘Be a Hero, Make Your Bahamas a Clean, Safe Bahamas’ campaign was launched October 2018 in Nassau, and went national in February.
“A big part of clean-up is controlling what goes into the waste stream as well, and the fact of the matter is that every single bit of Styrofoam and plastic that has ever been made continues to exist, and this is why we have to make that shift,” he said.
The minister said that he is very excited about the plans and noted that he has received support from the Ministry of Grand Bahama and the Office of the Prime Minister.
“One of the things I enjoy working as the minister of the environment is that we have the full support of the prime minister who is very environmentally conscious. And it did not take much convincing...that we will in fact join the rest of the world in banning single-use plastics and Styrofoam,” said Mr Ferreira.
The Ministry of Environment and Housing created a task force to advance an inclusive national campaign to phase out single-use plastics such as plastic bags, straws, food utensils and Styrofoam containers by 2020.
By implementing the ban, The Bahamas will join more than 40 countries around the world including parts of the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Kenya, Rwanda, Haiti, and Antigua and Barbuda that have already enforced or are in the process of formulating bans on selected plastic and Styrofoam products.
At the current rate of plastic pollution, the Bahamas Plastic Movement estimates that it could cost the country up to $8.5 million in tourism losses annually.
Biodegradable alternatives to plastic bags and Styrofoam containers such as reusable bags, paper, and plant-based food containers have already been introduced to the local market by hotels, restaurants, and suppliers.