By 2020, single-use plastics will be a thing of the past in The Bahamas, the Minister of the Environment and Housing said.
“Like other small island developing states, our marine environment is an integral part of our island lifestyle. Due to our location, it is also expected that we will inherit unwanted marine debris as a result of ocean currents and wave patterns, adding a compounding impact to our tourism and fishing industries,” Minister Romauld Ferreira said.
The official explained his department is currently developing a strategy to completely eliminate shopping bags, food utensils, straws and Styrofoam from store shelves.
“We will also move to make the release of balloons into the air illegal, as they end up in our oceans, releasing toxins and injuring marine life,” Ferreira said.
“Additionally, we will become a signatory to the Clean Seas Campaign, which was launched in January 2017 by the United Nations Environment. It aims to increase global awareness of the need to reduce marine litter by engaging governments, the private sector, and the general public.”
In order to realize their goal, government officials will be recruiting various environmental professionals, regional authorities, schools, and other stakeholders as part of consultation and educational outreach campaigns.
“In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to businesses that have already incorporated sustainable food products within their daily operations. As the Minister of the Environment and Housing, I must commend your efforts to take responsibility for how your business impacts our environment,” Ferreira said.
The environmentally-conscious initiative has been praised as the “first step towards developing a national waste management strategy for The Bahamas.” Others have called the decision a “win-win,” as it will simultaneously reduce landfill waste, but also save businesses millions of dollars in plastic bags every year.
The minister also said the move to green products could also potentially create jobs for artists, straw vendors and other creatives to redesign grocery bags and “add some Androsia and a dash of our native straw.”