On New Year’s Day 2020 seven countries in the Caribbean will prohibit single-use plastics and expanded polystyrene to prevent degradation of its coasts due to the serious danger of contamination.
Seven Caribbean countries agree to ban single-use plastics from January
From 1 January, 2020, Jamaica, Belize, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas, will prohibit the importation and use of single-use plastics and styrofoam/polystyrene. With this ban, the Caribbean region plans to avoid the degradation of its marine habitat that would cause a risk to health and food security of about 40 million people living in coastal areas, in addition to invaluable economic losses.
The increasing accumulation of plastic waste has caused 200,000 jobs to be put at direct risk
The world consumes 5 billion plastic bags made annually with petroleum derivatives that can take up to hundreds of years to degrade, and the Caribbean countries are the ones that make the most use per capita of these materials so harmful to the environment.
Of the thirty major global polluters per capita of this type of plastics, ten are from the Caribbean region, which gives an idea of the magnitude of the problem that will be addressed as of January 1.
For example, Trinidad and Tobago produces 1.5 kilograms of plastic waste per person per day, the highest in the world.
It is estimated that about a quarter of a kilo of that figure ends up on the coasts of that country because of inadequate processes for the treatment of plastic waste.
This "club" of large plastic polluters also includes countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Granada, Anguilla and Aruba, among others.
More than 300,000 tons of plastic waste in the Caribbean are not collected every year as a result of the fact that a good part of the region’s households throw plastic waste into waterways or land, according to World Bank data.
In addition, more than 4 million plastic waste items were collected in coastal areas between 2006 and 2012 in the Caribbean, according to information from the United Nations Environment Program.
The increasing accumulation of plastic waste has caused 200,000 jobs to be put at risk that depend on work linked to the coastal area, including the millionaire diving businesses in the region.
“January 1 represents an important date in the fight against plastic pollution,”
The problem of environmental pollution by plastic waste will affect the smaller Caribbean countries over the years with particular severity, which due to their lack of resources leaves them much more defenceless than the larger states.
One of the most representative countries in the region is Jamaica, which as several of its neighbours will ban from 1 January, 2020 the import and use of single-use plastics and polystyrene/styrofoam.
Jamaica’s Minister for Economy and Employment, Daryl Vaz, said that "January 1 represents an important date in the fight against plastic pollution that affects not only Jamaica, but the entire world." — as reported by El Diario
Vaz stressed that restrictions are necessary once Jamaica is literally flooded with all kinds of plastic materials that are also improperly removed.
The neighbouring Atlantic archipelago of the Bahamas also joined this environmental battle, so starting next January 1st will introduce a ban on importing and using single-use plastics and polystyrene.
The Bahamas Ministry of Environment clarified that a six-month transition period opens that will lead, starting in June 2020, to fines for those who persist with the use of these materials. This series of measures is part of the Bahamas Environmental Protection Act 2019. The Government of The Bahamas estimates that the current rate of contamination by plastics could cause losses for tourism close to 10 million dollars per year, damages that are being tried to remedy this standard.
In neighbouring Central America, the Congress of Costa Rica passed a law last October that prohibits the use and commercialisation of single-use plastic straws, as well as the bags that are delivered in supermarkets to load purchases.
On the other hand, the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico, a free State associated with the US, approved the bill that prohibits the use of single-use plastics in any commercial establishment, for sale and authorised distribution.
The 1951 Chamber Project authored by the representative, Joel Franqui Atiles, also establishes a three-year transition term to comply with the provisions of this law, has an orientation procedure for such purposes and establishes fines between 150 and 250 dollars.
Check out the UN Environment Programme’s infographic: SINGLE-USE PLASTICS: A Roadmap for Sustainability (Fact-sheet for Policymakers)
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