NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper said he is “dismayed” by the government’s poor implementation of the ban on single use plastics.
Cooper’s comments come amidst outcry from the public, over businesses selling single-use plastic bags in the aftermath of the ban.
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.
Businesses will then be allowed to sell compostable single-use plastic bags for 25 cents to $1, excluding VAT.
The legislation is meant is a deterrent for consumers to use single-use plastics – however there has been ongoing debate over the transition period.
Cooper, who reiterated his support for the ban, said: “It is regrettable that there is such an outcry in relation to the matter.
“The government could have done a better job in term of its implementation.
“But I want to be very clear that it’s a step in the right direction in the protection of the environment, in protection of our marine resources, and the protection of our country and therefore on that basis we stand behind it, as we did in Parliament.”
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.
Cooper made similar comments in the House of Assembly during the debate over the length of time for the transition.
At the time, he said the opposition supported the ban, and expected long term positive results.
“I indicate to the government that I thought the transition period was too short,” Cooper said.
“I thought there ought to be a broader time frame for educating the public, to explain to the public why its good for the country, why its good of the environment, why it’s good for our health, and allow there to be a proper transition period.
He said: “I was concerned as I had a resident who was in the plastics business, who had significant inventory and they wanted to deplete or sell those stock before the ban came into place and this is why I asked for a longer transition period.”