Yesterday, Belize took a giant step in promoting eco-friendliness by signing the Environment Protection (Pollution from Plastics) Regulations 2020 into law. These regulations came into effect today and are supposed to reduce the use of plastics in the country. The work in getting to this point of having signed legislation has been ongoing and the discussions and debates remain alive especially between environmentalists and business owners. The legislation, however, does not signal an automatic ban on plastics for Belize. According to the Senator for Non-Governmental Organizations, Osmany Salas, there will be a phasing out process.
Osmany Salas, NGO Senator: “My understanding is, and I saw the Government Press Release yesterday and they referred to the regulations that Minister Hulse signed to take effect as of today; the regulations. I must say that I have not had a chance to read the regulations as yet but my understanding is that the process for the ban to take full effect commences with the signing of these regulations. That is a tremendous step so my understanding is that the manufacturers of Styrofoam containers, for example, will have a time to phase that out and the suppliers and manufacturers of the biodegradable containers will also have the opportunity and the time and space and support to put that in place. So the phasing out process has now taken legal effect. So the way I understand it, it doesn’t mean that as of today it will be illegal to have single-use plastics at a store for example but the process legally commences now to completely ban that up to a certain period of time. This is a tremendous step and the government must be congratulated to take that step. It puts Belize on the map. Since we announced the process to initiate that, other countries have instituted the ban themselves. So I am glad to see that happening in different parts of the world and here in Belize. What I expect and hope to see is for the fiscal incentives support to be given to the local manufacturers of biodegradables because we need to provide the specific support to make them more affordable. They tend to be more expensive than single-use and Styrofoam products so that also has to be put in place and there will also be a need to import some of these items to Belize.”
Salas stated that he expects only positive effects from these regulations, including a decrease in polluted waters as well as the number of marine life that die as a result of ingesting these plastics.