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Plastics Ban Needs Buy-In From Public

EXUMA and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper. (File photo)

EXUMA and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper. (File photo)

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

EXUMA and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper said the government’s upcoming ban on single-use plastics is being implemented too soon.

He also hit out at the “punitive” punishment for releasing balloons as a first-time offence under the anticipated law.

The ban on single-use plastics and Styrofoam will go in place on January 1, 2020.

“I support the idea, but I do believe the implementation time is too close,” Mr Cooper said yesterday during debate on a compendium of environmental bills in the House of Assembly.

“January 1 is right around the corner. I think a six-month window for public education and to allow people to deplete the stock they had already purchased would make more sense. In order for this to work, there must be buy-in from the public. The public should know how this impacts our land and sea and health. Otherwise people will flout the law.”

He added: “This will impact small business and small business owners the most. We have to be sensitive about the bottom line, what with the recent increase in VAT and the soon to be increased power bills if the government has its way. A few months ago when these bills were laid, I made a plea on behalf of a small business owner from Black Point, Exuma who hires up to 12 persons in the plastics business. They must have adequate time to appropriately adjust their product lines.”

In response, Environment Minister Romauld Ferreira told The Tribune the public began to be notified of the plastic ban in 2018, suggesting everyone had adequate time. He added that there will be a six-month grace period next year as well.

Mr Cooper also questioned whether elements are in place to ensure compliance with the anticipated laws.

“We often pass laws in this place that the government does not have the teeth to enforce and we often do not enforce laws already on the books,” he said. “Also, $2,000 for releasing balloons on the first offence? We can be punitive to deter these things without being excessive in the face of inadequate education and transition. The date of commencement is also right after Christmas. So while I support the idea, the timeframe should definitely be extended.”

Nonetheless, Mr Cooper and other Progressive Liberal Party MPs supported the compendium of bills, which included the Ministry of Environment Bill, the Environmental Planning and Protection Bill, the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, the Bahamas National Trust (Amendment) Bill and the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund (Amendment) Bill.

The Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019 will prohibit single-use plastic foodware and non-biodegradable, oxo-biodegradable and biodegradable single-use plastic bags; prohibit the release of balloons; and regulate the use of compostable single-use plastic bags. Single-use plastic foodware outlined in the bill include: Styrofoam cups, plates and other similar Styrofoam foodware used to contain food; plastic knives, forks, spoons and straws.

Under the new law, businesses will be able to possess and sell prohibited plastics to customers up to June 30, 2020 for a fee. Businesses will be allowed to sell compostable single-use plastic bags for 25 cents to $1, excluding VAT.

If convicted under the proposed legislation, a first time offender faces a fine not exceeding $2,000, and in the case of a continuing offence, $500 for each day the offence continues. A second or subsequent offence will be met with a fine not exceeding $3,000, and further fine of $700 for each day it continues.

Comments

JackArawak 2 weeks, 5 days ago

stop importing banned products....the government controls the border...or do they?

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Dawes 2 weeks, 5 days ago

They have been telling the public for longer then 6 months that this was coming in. As usual its only when you get close that people start to make noise. It is right to do and needs to happen. This is like the recent traffic laws, everyone saying they weren't informed they are no longer allowed to use their cell phones whilst driving, butt somehow they magically know they can turn left on red.

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Sickened 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Chester says it's too soon. LOL! He's embarrassing himself just for the sake of arguing. Chester.... it's better to be quiet than to argue against a good idea. This ban has been talked about for most of this year... maybe even from last year. We are not the first country to do it either.

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birdiestrachan 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Banning single use plastic bags will hurt poor people. bags can be purchased for 25 cents.. garbage bags and newspapers will be put in plastic bags, meat clothes from the laundry. the boats from Florida the items are wrapped in plastic the customs officers take it off to check the items then wrap them in plastic again.

Florida 50 miles away have not banned plastic bags, take plastic bags away then give the people OBAN and dredge a cruise port. The rich will get richer and the poor the FNM government could not care less.

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Sickened 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Lol! What an argument! In short... screw the country and the environment so poor people won't have to purchase 25 cent bags! AND... don't do anything until Florida does it! AND, AND... in the same sentence talk about OBAN and dredging our cruise port!! Wow! D- for logic and structure.

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Hoda 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Exactly, revealing their hypocrisy daily.

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birdiestrachan 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Every dollar spent in the store the Government takes 12 cents , add 25 cents for bags it adds up especially for persons on low income. , Dredging for the cruise port and OBAN peril, will cost the environment. Never mind the D. It is good old common sense, Wisdom and understanding. that does not come from the smarty pants. .

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Hoda 2 weeks, 4 days ago

They already explained that business owners retain the 25 cents.

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proudloudandfnm 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Birdie for the last time the water where the port is going is deep, they won't dredge they'll build a boardwalk. Stop spreading lies...

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sweptaway 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Need to ban the government from plastics alright ! Take away their credit cards !

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hrysippus 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Hey Weptaway, that is a very good idea.

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sheeprunner12 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Betcha there are loopholes for the businessmen and their lawyers to exploit .... SMT

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BONEFISH 2 weeks, 4 days ago

The ban on single use plastic bags should have been done years ago. Somebody told me ,they meet that ban in place on the island of Martinique several years ago.The Bahamas always is in the rear when it comes to implementing progressive ideas.

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