NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Amid public outcry over businesses selling single-use plastic bags in the aftermath of the ban, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday insisted Bahamians were fully informed of the ban.
Minnis told reporters the fee is a deterrent after Super Value owner Rupert Roberts called on the government to “abolish” the practice.
“We went on a serious public relations marketing strategy, informing the Bahamian populous that this was going to happen, informing them the necessity of banning plastic bag,” the prime minister said.
“It gets into our waters, damages it, causes death to fish, corals and our marine life.
“So the conch salad that you eat today, if we continue down this road with plastic you won’t have it tomorrow. The boil fish you eat today, you won’t have tomorrow.
“So we’re trying to prevent that so we can have sufficient fish, sufficient marine life, sufficient resources for our future generation.
“So all of that was explained. The 25 cents was basically put there to prevent you from purchasing.”
Under the new law – which took effect on January 1, 2020, businesses are allowed to possess and sell prohibited plastics to customers up to June 30, 2020 for a fee.
In November last year, the government passed a suite of environmental bills, including the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019.
The bill prohibits single-use plastic food packaging and non-biodegradable, oxo-biodegradable and biodegradable single-use plastic bags; prohibits the release of balloons; and regulates the use of compostable single-use plastic bags.
Minnis noted that many bags have been distributed to the public at various different events in the year leading up to the ban.
He added, “Bags will continue to be distributed and offered to individuals and I encourage Bahamians that as different areas and setups are setup, that they can utilize and obtain the bags so that they can use them and save our marine life, save our marine resources, save our tourism, save our economy.”
Roberts also told The Nassau Guardian that the Minnis administration’s handling of the matter could impact them in the next General Election.
Responding to the warning, Minnis said: “I’ve always said, , I would always prefer to lose an election than losing a country, that’s my position.
“I feel that a country and a future generation is more important to me. I prefer to lose an election than lose a future generation and a country.”