Marine biologist Nikola- Simpson. (GP)
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Have you heard? Barbados has banned plastic!
Here’s the who, what, why, when, where and how.
In April 2019, Barbados joined a growing list of countries around the World that have implemented measures to reduce plastic pollution. This action signals the country’s commitment in helping to preserve life on land and below water and by extension our Blue/ Green Economy, as well as the people whose livelihoods depend upon it.
Driven and supported by the work and advocacy of environmentally conscious individuals and organisations over the years and more recently led by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification, Barbados took a big step to continue the fight against plastic pollution which impacts our health, that of the environment and our economy.
With effect from April 1, 2019, Barbados banned the importation of a list of petroleum based single use plastics. In just ten days on July 1, 2019, Barbados will ban the distribution, retail and use of these items. Nine months later on January 1, 2020, the ban on petroleum based plastic bags will come into effect.
So what does this mean for you?
If you used to be an importer of any of the petroleum based single use plastic items listed, you can no longer import them (failing to comply will result in penalties that can be found in the Control of Disposable Plastics Act, 2019).
If you distribute, retail and sell these items and have waited until the last minute, you now have less than two weeks to get rid of existing stock, search for an alternative that suits the food that you serve as well as your business needs.
How did we get here?
The ban on specific petroleum based single use plastic is not just something that was decided upon overnight.
Discussed by the previous administration and over the past year led by Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey and his team, this ban was welcomed by many individuals and organisations in the environmental space who have been advocating on the issue for years.
There were several stakeholder consultations with representatives of many industries beginning in August 2018. These served to discuss the upcoming ban, receive input from and accommodate those individuals and businesses that import, sell, manufacture and use the items to be banned.
The ban on plastic is an opportunity to drive innovation, create new industry and promote local manufacture. While the ban is a great first step, it signals a larger conversation and action surrounding waste management and the promotion of a circular economy. It must be coupled with fines for littering and programmes to support sorting at source.
Regardless of the alternative used, some individuals have a littering problem. What is required is continued education and awareness to help support a cultural change. This is the key to success and although it takes time, it has begun. A shift is happening.
So let’s all work together to sort it out and make Barbados single use plastic free by 2020!
Check back in next Thursday where I discuss the alternatives to single use plastic and where I try to answer some of the following: So what will I put my van food in? What about some of these new containers that won’t hold my gravy? What about my garbage? (You know Bajans reuse supermarket bags for garbage?!) Can I still use ziploc bags? What about the styrofoam tray for food preservation?
Nikola Simpson is a marine biologist that uses her voice to speak for the ocean. She is passionate about raising awareness on ocean conservation such as the impacts of plastic pollution and how we as individuals can make small changes that create a big positive impact towards an environmentally sustainable and conscious Caribbean.
She is the founder of Sustainable Caribbean where she offers a range of sustainability consulting services and the Crate Barbados, the Caribbean's first one stop eco shop.
Social: @sustainablecaribbean @thecratebarbados on IG and FB