Saba prepares phased implementation single-use plastics ban

The motion calls on the Island Council to ban single-use plastics on the island.
Styrofoam boxes

The Bottom, Saba – The Public Entity Saba is preparing the phased implementation of the single-use plastic products ban in 2021. A legislation proposal has been drafted and sent to the Island Council for deliberation. An official public consultation on the draft ordinance has been initiated. The ban will start with a prohibition on plastic carrier bags per January 1, 2021.

Based on an island-wide consultation through interviews, a questionnaire and a think tank, the government has worked on a draft ordinance in the past half year to regulate the gradual prohibition of single-use plastics. The ordinance will prohibit the provision of a number of frequently used and/or easily replaceable kinds of single-use plastics, namely carrier bags, food containers, cups, plates, cutlery, straws, stirrers, cotton swabs, fresh produce bags and confetti.

The plan is to start the plastic ban with plastic carrier bags per January 1, 2021. This means that supermarkets, other stores and restaurants, but also other sellers (eg booth holders at events or markets) and service providers may not provide plastic bags to their customers as of that date. If environmentally friendly, single use alternatives for plastic bags are provided, a fee must be charged to the customer. This is done in order to encourage people to bring reusable bags, but also to help business owners save costs.

Single-use plastic cups, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers and confetti should become prohibited by May 1, 2021. Food containers are the last product to be banned, on October 1, 2021. The reason for this is that similar quality alternatives are harder to find. Restaurant owners need sufficient time to test different products and find a proper solution before fully eliminating the plastic and Styrofoam containers.

Eco-friendly version

The idea to introduce the plastics ban in phases is based on the notion that it some products are easier to phase out or replace than others. A longer phase-out time will be implemented for products that are harder to replace by an eco-friendly version, especially in the case of food containers. 

The ban targets all types of abovementioned products that are produced for single use and made out of any type of plastic. This includes Styrofoam, but also plant-based materials that were chemically altered to create plastics such as ‘biodegradable plastics’ that only decompose in a commercial composting unit, which Saba does not have. The environmental damage of these bioplastics is similar to that of regular plastics if not processed properly. The ban also includes types of products that are non-recyclable or difficult to recycle because they are made of inferior plastics that cannot be exported off the island for processing abroad, and therefore end up in the solid waste burner on Saba. 

The ordinance gives the possibility to request an exemption to the ban when certain banned single-use plastic products are necessary for medical purposes or in other contexts where hygiene cannot be sufficiently ensured otherwise. In order to guarantee as much as possible that the exemption only takes place in situations where there is no other option than using single use plastic products, conditions may apply to exemptions granted and exemptions may be valid only temporarily.

Reduce littering

The Public Entity Saba has the aim to reduce littering and burning of solid waste. On September 18, 2018, the Island Council unanimously adopted a motion urging for the implementation of a single- use plastics ban. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW) supported this initiative by signing a Letter of Intent with the Public Entity on July 15, 2019.

Main stakeholders were consulted on a single-use plastics ban during the process, and an island- wide consultation was done via a questionnaire, which received over 200 responses. A think tank was set up to provide further input for the contents of a single use plastics ban. Together with the ministry of IenW, an ordinance was drafted for the reduction of the use of single use plastics. The phasing out of single-use plastic water bottles at the schools has been initiated.

Recycling workplace

Other (future) initiatives in relation to this ban and to reducing the use of plastics in general are: setting up a local plastic recycling workplace, which should be operational by the end of the year, signing a covenant with organizations on the island to terminate the use of balloons, and organizing contests at the schools: a poster contest was already held at the primary school, while a video contest at the secondary school should take place later this year. The water bottling plant, scheduled to be ready before the end of the year, will also contribute to the reduction of single use plastics on the island.

Consultations so far have shown that there is a broad community support for a single use plastics ban. The official public consultation on the draft ordinance takes place until August 20. Responses can be sent to

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