The Bahamas Ministry of Environment and Housing implemented a single-use plastics ban nationwide on 1 January. The purpose of the ban on importation of single-use plastics is to reduce plastic consumption in order to reduce plastic pollution across the country. Reducing the proliferation of plastic in the island communities will create a healthier environment that will serve to prevent massive landfill fires, reduce litter on the streets and beaches, and improve the general health of the nation.
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is blessed with some of the clearest water in the world, making it especially attractive for snorkellers and divers exploring the abundant marine and coral life. The low-lying islands of this archipelagic nation are, however, especially vulnerable to climate change and the plastic ban is part of the government’s response to the global phenomenon that is devastating the environment by shifting weather patterns and creating monster storms like Hurricane Dorian. The goal is to improve the country’s survival rate by reducing the likelihood of these types of storms, rising sea levels, and other challenges that the small-island state faces as global climate changes at an unprecedented rate. By acting today, the Bahamas aim to reduce the potential risk, cost, and devastation that all could face tomorrow. It is hoped that the plastic ban will play a key role in conserving the health of the world’s third largest barrier reef and its marine life.
The single-use plastics ban is being implemented in phases to allow the public to make a smoother transition to life without the ‘4Bidden Four’ single-use plastic products, which are:
– Single-use plastic bags
– Plastic utensils
– Plastic straws
– Styrofoam containers and cups
On 1 January, the importation of these items into the country was completely banned. Business owners can offer consumers these items from their current supply without charge, except for plastic bags, until 30 June 2020.
Businesses are permitted to charge a fee of $.25 to $1 to consumers for plastic bags and biodegradable bags during this period (1 January – 30 June 30 2020). The purchase of the bag must be reflected on the customer’s receipt as a separate line item. Value Added Tax (VAT) will be added to the sale of each bag, as per other items sold across the country, by law.
The purpose of the fee is to discourage consumers from buying plastic bags and to encourage them to bring reusable bags to shop so that they do not need to buy a plastic bag. This will reduce the number of plastic bags in circulation.
Photo credit: Tom St George and Blue Lagoon Bahamas
The Bahamas Tourist Board will be at the GO Diving Show from 21-23 February at the Ricoh Arena, along with Bahamian diving legend Stuart Cove, who will be taking to the Inspiration Stage to talk about his remarkable life and achievements. Book your tickets now! www.godivingshow.com/dive-show-tickets/