By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
OFFICIALS from the Ministry of Environment and Housing are calling for business owners to reach out to the ministry to be educated on the impending 2020 ban on single-use plastics and Styrofoam.
Kendria Ferguson, environmental officer at the Ministry of Environment, encouraged business owners in need of help identifying alternatives or further clarification to reach out for assistance.
The environmental officer also said documents related to the upcoming ban were submitted to Cabinet and ministry officials are waiting for Cabinet’s approval to release all of the information to the public.
She said: “The ministry engaged Blue Orchid Advertising Agency to develop our brand with the ban, what the ban is going to look like and to help develop educational material, infographics. They’re helping us develop our public campaign. We are going to start entering the schools to get the kids involved as well as we are doing to get the private sector involved to introduce private sector sponsorship packages.”
When asked if she thought the Bahamas would be entirely ready for the 2020 deadline, Ms Ferguson said: “I think we will...the alternatives are already on island. A lot of the wholesalers have already brought them in.
“A part of our plan is a reduction on the alternatives, so [Department of Customs officials] have been every helpful putting that together. [Ministry of] Finance has been helpful as well so we think all of that will be approved as is. That will be a great positive for business owners if approved. I think we’ll be all set.”
In an interview with The Tribune, Rupert Roberts, owner of the Super Value chain of food stores, said he is still in the process of preparing for the ban.
Mr Roberts said: “We use biodegradable [plastic] bags at this time, but we are still trying to find out from the manufacturers when they’ll have the plastic bottles for the salad bar replaced. As of now I won’t be able to speak on further because we are still trying to prepare a few things.”
Meanwhile, Tony Miller, Centreville Food Store owner, said his store is still using single-use plastic bags.
“We are trying to [prepare] but we don’t have anything else to put the groceries in,” he said. “Right now, we are still using plastic bags 100 percent. What can we do? We don’t have anything else for the people to put their groceries in. If the [government] was bringing bags, then I would understand.
“We don’t need more time, but the people aren’t bringing in the reusable bags. Who is going to buy the bags? We going to have to buy those bags or the people going to have to bring their bags? The bags aren’t free.”
Last year, Environment and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira officially announced his ministry’s initiative to ban single-use plastics and Styrofoam in the country by January 1, 2020.
Mr Ferreira also spoke about the long-term health and environment impacts from single-use plastics — such as disposable utensils, straws and shopping bags — and Styrofoam, which contribute to street and ocean litter as well as health disorders when chemicals from these products are leached into food.