Education campaign urged before plastics ban

A public education campaign to inform Bahamians of the impact of plastics on the environment will allow the public to be more supportive of the government’s plastic ban, said Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert.

The government released the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019, on Wednesday.

The bill would prohibit the import, distribution, manufacturing, possession and sale of single-use plastic bags and food containers and would not apply to businesses that manufacture expanded polystyrene in The Bahamas for export.

The government has previously indicated its plans to ban single-use plastics at the beginning of 2020.

“The ministry has been requesting feedback from stakeholders and getting a lot of feedback and then incorporating that into the actual legislation, so, that’s very positive and we’re pleased that it’s moving forward ahead of the January 1st deadline,” McKinney-Lambert told The Nassau Guardian.

“It’s good to have those details about what is permitted and what’s not permitted so that businesses and individuals can be fully prepared.”

The BREEF executive director noted that she has already seen the bill, but intends to further analyze it thoroughly.

Asked whether there is some anticipation of backlash from the public because of the plastics ban, McKinney-Lambert said, “This is where the education campaign and really growing awareness of the availability of alternatives along with the negative impact of these plastics that ultimately last forever is so important.

“So, the public education component of plastic pollution is absolutely essential here and that has been a core component of all of these efforts.

“I think emphasizing the fact that as people are aware of the impact of plastics on the environment as well as human health, they will be broadly supportive of these measures.”

According to The World Economic Forum’s 2016 report, “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics”, there were over 150 million tons of plastic waste in the ocean around that time.

If business-as-usual continues, there would be one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050 there would be more plastic than fish in the ocean by weight.

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Sloan Smith

Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas. Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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