The Bahamas, the Atlantic Ocean archipelago of over 700 islands, has announced its plan to ban all disposable plastics and flying of balloons by 2020 to address the growing marine pollution and poor waste management issues.
The country’s environment and housing minister Romauld Ferreira said at a press conference last week they are developing a plan to implement the project which will lead to the country’s pledge to the Clean Seas Campaign launched by the United Nations Environment to increase global awareness to reduce marine litter, reports Caribbean360.
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“We will also move to make the release of balloons into the air illegal, as they end up in our oceans, releasing toxins and injuring marine life … If you didn’t know, plastic and Styrofoam do not decompose. They break down into much smaller micro-pieces which are often mistaken for food by birds, turtles, and fish … Now, we have come to full cycle and find ourselves eating our own plastic waste,” he said.
As part of the plan, the minister said they are engaging with civil service and other stakeholders to hold a nation-wide public consultation and educational outreach campaign as well as developing a legislation to punish offenders.
He added that his ministry has already banned the purchase and supply of Styrofoam cups in offices in an effort to lead by example.
“We encourage all employees to bring their own mug and reusable water bottles to work. We are working to expand our office sustainability plan so that it may be echoed throughout the public sector,” he said.
The Bahamas attracts over a million tourists annually and if the pollution continues, the country can lose up to $8.5 million in tourism losses annually, the minister noted.