The Island Ordinance of the Public Entity Saba to ban single-use plastic will go into effect on January 1, 2021, with a prohibition on the distribution and handing out of plastic carrier bags. Per that date, Sabans will have to bring their own bag to take the items that they have bought with them. The ordinance prohibits businesses to give out plastic bags for free. This is done to encourage people to use reusable bags, but also to help business owners save costs.
The ban includes bags made from bioplastic, which is a type of plastic made from a sustainable source, but which was chemically processed to have similar characteristics as regular plastic. The impact on the environment is therefore almost the same.
The single-use plastic ban is implemented in phases to allow businesses some time to introduce alternatives. Per May 1, 2021 the ban will apply to other single-use plastic products, namely: cups, plates, cutlery, straws, stirrers, cotton swabs with plastic rods, fresh produce bags, and confetti. Styrofoam food containers are the last product to be banned, on October 1, 2021.
In January a ‘starter kit’ will be distributed to each household which will have reusable items as an alternative to single-use plastic products. The kit will contain a shopping bag provided by Body, Mind & Spirit (BMS) and other reusable items such as a fresh produce bag, an insulated drinking bottle, and a bamboo straw.
An exemption to the single-use plastic ban will be in place for certain medical purpose products or in other contexts where hygiene cannot be sufficiently ensured otherwise. Teams that also carry out the inspections at the restaurants and supermarkets, will see to the enforcement of the ban.
The Island Council on October 22 unanimously approved the island ordinance. During the meeting, Commissioner Bruce Zagers noted that Saba was the first of the Caribbean Netherlands to implement an ordinance to ban the vast majority of single-use plastic products. “This is a positive development for Saba and will show long-term gains for our nature and our environment as a whole,” he said.
The Island Council initiated the process to create this ordinance in 2018 with an unanimously adopted motion of Council Member Vito Charles. In 2019, a letter of intent was signed with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management to work together on the implementation of this ban which is largely based on European Union (EU) regulations.