Caribbean island of Dominica bans plastic and Styrofoam

The fight against single-use plastic has been gathering steam over the past months, but the Caribbean nation of Dominica has taken the crusade to another level.

The island nation has announced its aim to completely ban common plastics and single-use Styrofoam cups and food containers — effective January 2019.

Announcing this intention in June’s budget address, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said his government wanted to help preserve Dominica’s famously beautiful natural landscape.

“Dominica prides itself as the “Nature Isle”. We must in every way deserve and reflect that designation,” reads Skerrit’s statement.

“The issue of solid waste management affects that perception and we continue to grapple with it.”

Plastic battle

Plastic bans or charges are effective in a number of countries across the world. In the UK, a recent study suggested there’s been a significant drop in the number of bags on the UK’s beaches since a plastic bag tax was introduced in 2015.

In the past month, New Zealand and Australia followed suit with plans to phase out plastic bags — although in Australia, controversy hit when major grocery store Coles backed out of the ban.

Big-name companies including Starbucks and Disney have also announced new plans to get rid of plastic straws.

But Dominica’s aim is much greater. The country has made it clear it wants to be the world’s first climate-resilient nation.

The full list of items that will be banned in Dominica has yet to be finalized, but the government says it will include plastic straws, plastic plates, plastic forks, plastic knives, Styrofoam cups and Styrofoam containers.

In September 2017, the island was ravaged by Hurricane Maria — and the effects of the storm are still being keenly felt.

“Extreme weather events are now more frequent and intense, brought on by climate-change impacts that are real, visible, devastating and unrelenting,” said Skerrit in the budget address.

The decision to protect the environment goes hand in hand with the country’s commitment to protect itself against future natural disasters.

“We must rebuild and reset our society and economy and protect our environment in order to achieve a new, more resilient Dominica.”