As a part of the movement towards a green economy and in its goal to have Barbados plastic-free by 2020, the Barbados government has placed a ban on single-use plastics. These are items made of plastic or polystyrene. The items which have been banned include cups; plates; cutlery; straws; egg trays, and Styrofoam containers used in the culinary retail industry
This intention was announced in 2018 and the first part of the ban came into effect April 1. This imposed a ban on the importation of single-use plastics. The second part of the ban will be effective July 1, banning the sale and distribution of these plastics. Finally, effective January 1, 2020, there will be a ban on petrol-based plastic bags, except those used for the packaging of pharmaceuticals, hygiene products, and food preservation.
After the 2018 landslide victory, the new government spoke of their commitment to the earth with goals of becoming plastic free by 2020 and further being 100% green and carbon neutral by 2030. A ministry was even created, tasked with this mission- Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy. The Governor General of Barbados explained that this ministry would be “charged with responsibility for preserving Barbados coastlines, our marine environment, the health of our reefs and the habitats of our marine plants and animals.”
As of 2018, approximately 380 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide each year and according to the United Nations Environment Programme, an estimated 8 million tons of this the world’s oceans. Because of the chemical structure of these plastics, they are resistant to many natural processes of degradation taking up to 1000 years to decompose. With the continued production and use of these plastics, we are swiftly moving towards earth covered in plastic.
Many alternatives to single-use plastics have already been integrated into daily life, with the use of alternatively produced single-use products which are more environmentally friendly in some cases and reusable items in others. Food vendors may have the hardest decisions to make however as costs for some of the alternative products have been said to be significantly higher than their predecessor. Do they bite the bullet and absorb the additional costs or do they pass them on to the customer? Time will have to tell.
Some items have been exempt from the plastics ban. These include:
- Plastics bags designed for garbage disposal – i.e. garbage bags
- Plastic bags and/or polystyrene containers used for dispensing pharmaceuticals
- Plastics bags designed for storage of agricultural products
- Plastic bags manufactured for export
- Plastic bags for food preservation
- Plastic straws attached to tetra boxes i.e. box juices
- Polystyrene trays used for packaging of fresh meat.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Minister Kirk Humphrey stated “We have said that we want to be fossil fuel free by 2030; we want to have a renewable platform; we want to be a country that when we speak to the world we speak as an environmentally friendly country and destination. These are the things that we must do if our words and our actions are to be aligned.”
A help desk has been set up for those people with queries regarding the ban, the alternatives, what is exempted, etc. You can reach the Help Desk by calling 1-246- 535-5712 between the hours of 9:00 am – 4:30 pm Monday to Friday.
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