Jamaica becomes the last country to prohibit disposable plastic products. In order to reduce plastic pollution, the Caribbean State will ban plastic disposable plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic cups starting from 1 January 2019.
One of the details of the new environmental policy is to ban the import, manufacture and distribution of plastic bags smaller than 58 by 58 centimeters. This includes black bags that are particularly popular in Jamaica and are typically referred to as “the scandalous bags” because their dark color prevents others from seeing what is inside the bag. However, the ban does not apply to disposable bags used for packaging raw meat, flour, rice, sugar and baked goods, because their purpose is to maintain public health and food safety standards.
Darryl Vaz, a minister without portfolio at the Ministry of Economic Development and Job Creation, encouraged consumers to use reusable bags from local businesses instead of plastic bags.
Plastics used in glasses, such as polyethylene, will also be banned from the following year, but importers and manufacturers will be able to apply for a limited two-year exemption. There will also be a two-year extension in the use of plastic straws attached to juice boxes and beverage cans. In addition to that, the medical sector may request exceptions to the ban specifically for plastic straws because alternatives from paper and bamboo are not always suitable for patients.
The Jamaican government plans to help companies make the transition to viable alternatives easier. Apart from the environmental impact, Jamaica has another reason for wanting to ban disposable plastic. The economy of the island depends on tourism and the disproportionate presence of marine waste on the beaches has caused a lot of damage. Some studies have shown that popular tourist spots may lose millions of dollars a year if visitors see the place full of garbage. This ban not only helps the environment, but it also contributes to the improvement of the slow economic growth that the country has faced in recent years.