After an initially rocky start to the single-use plastics ban, Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira said nearly three months in, Bahamians have adjusted to the change surprisingly well.
The government imposed the ban on January 1 this year, requiring businesses to charge between $0.25 and a dollar for plastic bags, much to the chagrin of Bahamian consumers.
“Bahamians have responded well and this is to the surprise of some of the retailers. They didn’t expect them to respond this well but they have. And it goes to show that we care about our environment, we care about what happens to it,” Ferreira told Guardian Business yesterday.
Still, the challenge persists of some businesses not charging customers, but to date, Ferreira said no charges have been levied against any business.
However, he said when the grace period ends on June 30, the ministry will fine businesses aggressively.
“Right now, we’re cautioning, but that day will come,” he said.
Fines range between $2,000 and $5,000.
Despite public complaints about the inconvenience, Ferreira reiterated the importance of the country taking this step to protect the environment.
“The largest retailer in this country uses 38 million single-use plastics a year. That’s the largest retailer. We estimate in-house that we use about 80 to 100 million of them a year, so you’re talking about a phenomenal amount,” he said.
“Ultimately, we care about the quality of the food that we eat and the quality of life. Because remember that these plastics break down into micro plastics and enter the food chain. And they are in the seafood we eat right now.”