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Plastics Ban - Be Prepared

By RIEL MAJOR

Tribune Staff Reporter

rmajor@tribunemedia.net

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. 

Comments

tell_it_like_it_is 1 year, 2 months ago

Yeah, I think this is a good thing. The recent study that showed just how much microscopic plastic materials are now within Bahamian waters... which now adds to the illegal dumping of waste materials, along with the uptick in cancers and other illness - we have to take a more serious look at environmental impact studies.

Every other day it seems like they are opening a beached marine animal to find it died from consuming 40 lbs of plastic, or 20lbs, etc. When the sea creatures are consuming these dangerous materials and then we consume the sea creatures, this is a recipe for disaster.
I hope this truly comes to fruition, even though it may seem inconvenient initially.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 2 months ago

This is long over due but will achieve very little if it does not also apply to all hotels and cruise ships that operate anywhere in our country.

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Islandboy242242 1 year, 2 months ago

Get the official info released by Cabinet then people can get an educated look at the specifics of the ban. As with the previous VAT changes, no sense speaking in generalities until the official docs are approved. On a similar note, why is the new breadbasket list such a great secret? The Minister said he has the changes but is waiting to announce in the House, if there's no more consultation then pass it, give the people the documents and a reasonable timeline so they can prepare...

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ohdrap4 1 year, 2 months ago

the list is a secret because they do not want the corned beef backlash repeat.

the list was made using nutrition science from 30 years ago.

people wil be so shocked with vat at 15% they will forget the corned beef issues.

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John 1 year, 2 months ago

So will Carnival be included in this ban? Asking for a friend who is in the illegal dumping business.

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John 1 year, 2 months ago

Japan is one of the few countries that recycle styrofoam, simply because they have immediate use for the recycled product, in car bumpers, electronics or for additional packaging. And fishing crates. The banning of styrofoam for single use will benefit the health of Bahamians who still put this product containing their food in the microwave. Other plastics are more easily recyclable, but there is little or no profit in recycling unless there is mass production like in China or Japan and the recycled product can easily reach the industrial areas. But is the world ready to give up single-use plastic and styro completely? Imagine the strain this will put on forests and the potential for deforestation. And of course, it will drive up the prices of other wood-based products including furniture (ok that's mostly plastic anyway) and in a few years after the ban, the world will rethink the use of plastic, either discovering a way to make it biodegradable or more recyclble. And they should also consider printing phone books every two years because they are hardly used anymore and many find themselves going into the land fill brand new.

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DDK 1 year, 2 months ago

Excellent point about trees. Do we want to lose the forests or do we want the world to implode from drilling and 'fracking'? At least folk can take their own bags to the grocery stores as they used to do, and are now doing again, in many countries in Europe. Personal recycling/reuse is an excellent start.

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bcitizen 1 year, 2 months ago

In the meantime Carnival is ..............

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 2 months ago

No info for beggars. Cabinet will release it when they feel like it. You can obey and keep quiet until time to ink ya fingah. That's how we dis operate. Bring ya own bag, or take your corned beef to ya car one can at a time.

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Islandboy242242 1 year, 2 months ago

lol nice one. Don't forget the Red, Yellow, Green loyalists that don't need to read the news and just bury their heads in the sand 4.5 years at a time. If your color is ruling the country everything they do is awesome, if not, its all crap.

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242wedo 1 year, 2 months ago

This is a good thing for the country. All in favor. And will actually put us ahead of Canada & the US. Hotels will want to join as public opinion is with them.

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geostorm 1 year, 2 months ago

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.

Place them in brown bags and charge them a fee of 5 cents like they do in the US and Canada. Watch how fast they will remember to bring their own bags.

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 2 months ago

Plastic bags are nothing compared to OBAN and Carnival cruise, As Kendria Ferguson says it is great for business owners. They no longer have to buy bags.

I agree with Tony Miller what will replace the Bags will the poor have to spend extra money to buy bags out of the little they have??

The plastic bags did dissipate.

Never mind Ferreira The people of Pinder's Point are disappointed they were of the impression that he would save them.

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John 1 year, 2 months ago

One time ago when you go to buy your meat or fish or conch they were wrapped in old newspapers. Never mind by the time you got home, the conch had yesterday’s headlines tattooed all over them. You washed them off and prepared them for a meal. Today the ink is too toxic to use newspaper to wrap food and the newspaper is also recycled and may not be hygienic.

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alleycat 1 year, 2 months ago

Our grandparents somehow managed to take their own shopping bags to the store with them, BP (Before Plastic) so I’m sure we can figure it out. The stores need to have Green Bags for sale at the checkout. And charge the customer for using the store’s plastic bags. Of course, if we actually had a RECYCLING programme, it wouldn’t be such a big deal.

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BONEFISH 1 year, 2 months ago

I hope we have a proper public relations campaign for this.We should have done this a long time.Our environment is very important for us.I hope we also implement a proper recycling program for plastic bottles, aluminum cans ,glass bottles and cardboard.

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Bobsyeruncle 1 year, 2 months ago

A couple of years ago California banned free plastic bags at all major stores selling groceries (Albertson's, Vons, Target etc.), but still allowed mom & pop stores the option of using them, as well as non-food stores such as Home Depot. When the ban came in I was so frickin' mad as I always forgot to take my own bags and had to pay 10 cents for every plastic or paper bag I needed. I soon learned to always carry reusable grocery bags in the trunk of my car !!.

Last year when I was over here I noticed one of the cupboards in my kitchen must have had a couple of hundred disposable plastic grocery bags in it. Given that I'm only in The Bahamas for a fraction of the year I hate to think how many the average Bahamian gets through each year. I bought over a couple of reusable bags last year and now take them with me every time I go to the grocery store. Those large blue Ikea bags sure can hold a lot of groceries and actually make it easier to transport groceries from the car (less bags to hold)

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