In an effort to reduce the negative impact plastics are having on Jamaica’s natural environment and public health, the island has just announced that it will begin banning plastic bags, straws, and Styrofoam.
The announcement was made during a press conference earlier this week hosted by Daryl Vaz, of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.
Vaz said Jamaica is being inundated with plastics of all types that are improperly disposed of and are causing increasingly harmful effects to both humans and animals, according to Jamaica Information Service.
The ban will take effect as of January 1, 2019.
The sweeping measure encompasses the import, manufacture, and distribution of small plastic bags (24 inches by 24 inches).
"Consumers are being encouraged to use reusable carrier bags, particularly by local enterprises," Vaz said.
The ban, however, will not apply to all single-use plastic bags. The measure will exclude those “utilized to maintain public health or food safety standards,” such as to package raw meats, flour, rice, sugar, and baked goods, according to the Independent.
The government intends to work with the Development Bank of Jamaica and the Ex-IM Bank to find ways to help local bag-making companies reconfigure to produce more environmentally safe products.
The new ban also includes polyethylene, which is more commonly known as Styrofoam. As of January, it too will be prohibited but local manufacturers and importers will be allowed to apply to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) for limited exemptions through January 2021.
And like many other countries and popular tourist destinations, there will also be a ban on plastic drinking straws. However, the deadline to eliminate straws that come with juice boxes and drink pouches will be January 2021.
The Jamaican government, which has been examining the problem caused by the improper management of single-use plastics at the macro-level for quite some time now, also plans to assist companies in making the leap to using sustainable alternatives.
Earlier this week, as part of Pollution Prevention Week, Sandals Resorts announced it will ban plastic straws.