The Bahamas is working hard to become an environmentally friendly nation. The ecosystem in the Bahamas is one of the most diverse in the world, but due to the increase of single-use plastic, it is now in danger. That is why the government is looking to pass the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill.
The new bill would prohibit the import, distribution, manufacturing, possession, and sale of single-use plastic. This includes items such as plastic bags and food containers. Part of this bill will also criminalize the release of balloons into the air.
“No person shall release any number of balloons at or about the same time if such balloons are filled with gas that causes them to rise in the air,” according to the proposed legislation. In addition, anyone found guilty of intentionally releasing balloons into the air could be fine up to USD 2,000 for a first-time offense, and up to $500 per day in the case of a continuing offense. The bill also states that subsequent offenses will result in fines of up to $3,000 and further fines of $700 per day for continuing. Balloons released by businesses, directors, managers, secretaries, or other officers will face even heftier fines. They could face charges of up to USD 5,000.
Bahamas is joining a number of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations in banning single-use plastics. Nassau is hoping to put the legislation in place by next year.
Although plastic bags will be banned for consumer use, there will be exceptions. For example, plastic bags for waste disposal, compostable single-use plastic bags, bags for unwrapped food for consumption (including fruits, vegetables, numbers, coffee, and candies), and plastic bags intended to solely contain live aquatic creatures in water will be allowed.
The legislation does state that the Minister of the Environment can make other types of plastic bags exempt if needed. Anyone who is found to violate the ban will face fines of up to $2,000 for a first conviction and additional fines of $500 a day for continued use.
The bill does provide a transition period of six months. During this time businesses will be allowed to possess and sell single-use plastic for a fee that ranges from 25 cents to a dollar.
“Upon the commencement of this act, a business establishment shall sell items prohibited under section 7 until 30th June, 2020 to a customer at a fee that is no less than 25 cents and no greater than one dollar per bag, excluding VAT; and shall be retained by the business establishment; and possess items prohibited under section 7 until 30th June, 2020.
In addition to plastic bags and released balloons, single-use plastic food ware will also be banned. This includes Styrofoam cups, plates, and other containers, as well as plastic cutlery and straws. Many companies internationally are already fazing out plastic straws due to the damage they due to marine life, particularly sea turtles.
Hopefully, this legislation will pass and the Bahamas’ stunning environment will be protected!