Executive Director of the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust, Hugh Shim, says the city’s harbour is much cleaner since the ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene foam in Jamaica.
The ban began on January 1 of this year and covers the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of the materials.
“Since the ban and progressively, we have seen fewer bags, especially the black ones that we call ‘scandal bags’. Definitely less of them are coming down the gullies now and in the harbour and shorelines,” Mr Shim outlined.
He noted that there was a prevalence of bags, in addition to styrofoam containers and plastic bottles prior to the ban along the city’s coastline. He said the materials choked marine life as well as disrupted recreational activities.
Mr. Shim also noted that the microplastics are sometimes eaten by fish “which then comes back to us” to be consumed, thus further spreading toxic substances. He said that should be less of an issue now that there are fewer plastic materials finding their way to Montego Bay’s seabed.
“There is a major reduction in the black plastic bags and there is less styrofoam. We are developing the culture where we take our own bags to the supermarkets or wherever,” he said.
Mr. Shim indicated that more work needs to be done to enforce the ban on plastic bags and protect the environment. He pointed out that some establishments, particularly eateries, continue to use single-use plastic bags.
“I’ve seen some of the transparent ones (polybags) being used, which is just as bad, if not worse. It’s a ban, so it has to be enforced. Whoever is doing the enforcement has to go around the different shops or distributors and seize them,” he said.
Mr. Shim is also encouraging the citizens of Montego Bay to continue to “reuse and recycle”.