The nationwide ban on single use plastics and Styrofoam, implemented by the Ministry of the Environment and Housing commenced yesterday, January 1.
The ban includes single use plastic bags, Styrofoam containers and cups, plastic utensils and plastic straws.
While the ban officially began yesterday, consumers, retailers and wholesalers are advised that a six-month transitional period will be provided, to allow for the distribution of previously purchased inventory of the banned items to be depleted.
However, after such time, retailers and wholesalers found distributing the items will be liable to pay hefty fines.
Effective July 1, 2020, all prohibited items will be completely banned throughout the Commonwealth.
As for alternatives to single use plastic bags, consumers are encouraged to travel to various retail stores with reusable bags for their purchased items.
For persons making purchases without reusable bags in hand, effective January 1, business establishments have been required by law to implement a bag check out fee. According to the website www.plasticfree242.com, “The fee can range from 25 cents to $1.00 per bag, excluding Value Added Tax (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.”
As for the alternatives to plastic utensils, plastic straws and Styrofoam containers, they include compostable utensils, compostable paper, steel and bamboo straws and compostable containers respectively.
Moving forward, it is also the intent of the Ministry of the Environment and Housing to seek to have the release of balloons into the air prohibited as well, as they too severely impact our oceans and overall environment.
As many countries throughout the world have implemented similar restrictions to single use plastics and Styrofoam, The Bahamas is just one of many Caribbean countries to follow suit with the band as of January 1. Reportedly Barbados, Belize, The Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have also implemented similar bands in their jurisdictions this year.
For more information towards a plastic free Bahamas, persons are encouraged to contact the Ministry of Environment and Housing by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.