The government’s ban on single-use plastics was “the right thing to do” to reduce the country’s carbon footprint in the face of climate change, Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira said on Friday.
“Plastics are made from hydrocarbons,” said Ferreira during an event at the University of The Bahamas.
“I started this very brief presentation emphasizing what is the right thing to do. The right thing to do is to reduce our carbon footprint. We cannot talk about renewable energies, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels without tackling our dependence on plastic because it comes from that.
“And the other big issue with plastic is that they all break down to microplastic. They all end up in the ocean, and we’re on a trajectory to have more plastics in the ocean than fish, as crazy as that may sound.”
The minister noted that plastic pollution is not simply a problem for other parts of the world, but rather “a local problem”.
“…[Many] of us seem to think these problems exist somewhere else out there and they don’t affect us and there’ve been numerous studies that have shown that microplastics are in the fish that we eat and that we consume,” he said.
“And seeing that we have some of the highest cancer rates in the world, this is the right thing to do.”
Legislation banning single-use plastics came into effect on January 1, 2020.
The Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Act, 2019 outlines that businesses have until June 30, 2020 to possess prohibited items such as plastic bags on the condition that the items are sold to customers at a fee no less than 25 cents and no more than $1, excluding value-added tax.
Many consumers have taken issue with the charge for plastic bags, calling it a tax.
Super Value owner Rupert Roberts has said the government should abolish the fee on plastic bags, warning that public anger over the issue could follow the Minnis administration “into the ballot box”.
However, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis dismissed criticisms on the ban.
“That’s a matter that will be further discussed but I’ve always said [and] on record and you quote me, I would always prefer to lose an election than losing a country,” he told reporters.