Pollution from single-use plastics has become a major problem globally and in Belize. Recent scientiﬁc studies have shown that plastics and/or microplastics have entered all levels of the food chain within our oceans; and in Belize, is impacting over the natural environment, drainage, and waterways.
A 2017 assessment commissioned by the Department of the Environment, found that over a three-year period, Belize annually imported over 200 million pieces of single-use plastic bags, 52 million pieces of styrofoam & plastic food containers, locally produced and manufactured; an estimated 35 million single-use plastic bags and 5 million pieces of styrofoam.
Most recently, the government of Belize announced that effective January 15th, 2020, the phase-out plan to ban single-use plastics in Belize is officially under legislation. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development, and Immigration, Hon. Godwin Hulse signed into law, the Pollution from Plastics Regulations.
The purpose of these regulations is to carry out Cabinet’s decision to reduce plastic and styrofoam pollution through the phasing out of single-use plastics, including shopping bags, Styrofoam, and plastic food utensils. This decision was made as a necessary pollution control measure to protect the terrestrial and marine environment from harmful plastic contamination.
These regulations have undergone months of legislative drafting and re-drafting, and have been subjected to an extensive consultation period with regulators and stakeholders from the private sector such as importers, manufacturers, and producers of single-use plastics.
This new legislation regulates the importation and manufacture of Restricted Products listed in Schedule I of the regulations through a licensing and permitting process through the Department of Environment.
The legislation also prohibits the importation, manufacture, sale, and possession of certain prohibited plastic products.
The list of single-use plastic products to be prohibited as per Schedule II of the Environmental Protection (Pollution from Plastics) Regulations, 2020, is as follows:
• Single-use styrofoam and plastic “clamshells”
• Single-use styrofoam and plastic plates, bowls, cups and lids
• Single-use plastic forks, knives, spoons, sporks, and cutlery
• Single-use plastic carrier bags commonly referred to as shopping bags and/or T-shirt bags
• Single-use plastic drinking straws
For more information on how the Belizean Government is working towards these goals, visit the department of environments website here: Department of the Environment.
Since the Protected Areas Conservation Trust was established, PACT has been accredited national implementing entity (NIE) status for the Adaptation Fund as well as granted a ﬁduciary role for such agencies as the World Bank, the Meso-American Reef Fund (MAR Fund), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the Belize Nature Conservation Fund (BNCF).