The island nation of Dominica is banning various single-use plastics by 2019, according to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who announced the decision in a recent budget address.
Once enacted, it will be one of the toughest anti-plastic laws in the world. Skerrit framed the ban as an environmental imperative.
"Dominica prides itself as the ‘Nature Isle.’ We must in every way deserve and reflect that designation," Skerrit said in a statement. "The issue of solid waste management affects that perception and we continue to grapple with it.”
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A full list of banned items is still being formalized, but Skerrit said that it will at least include single-use plastic straws, plates, forks, knives, and Styrofoam cups and containers.
With a population of 73,543, Dominica is more than 100 times smaller than New York City, so it’s not like the new law will significantly reduce global plastic pollution.
But it reinforces the message that single-use plastics are on the way out. In recent years, more than 60 countries have taken action against single-use plastics.
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The driving force behind this increasingly coordinated effort is the growing awareness of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. As scenes of animals fatally tangled in plastic nets and rivers choked with plastic waste go viral, people are demanding political action to deal with the problem.
For a country that depends on its pristine landscapes and waterscapes for tourism, Dominica is keenly aware of the ugly effects of plastic and the appeal of sustainable alternatives.
“Our terrestrial and marine spaces sustain our economy and drive our competitiveness,” Skerrit said in his statement. “That is why we have long had a tradition for respecting and preserving the environment.”
That’s why the push to get rid of plastic is part of a broader sustainability initiative. In addition to calling for a plastic ban, Prime Minister Skerrit also said that the country must become climate resilient by investing in renewable energy and building sustainable infrastructure.
“This country and its citizens are now being asked to take a development journey to A Resilient Dominica that will benefit this and future generations,” Skerrit said. “We must take that journey together. While we walk, we must pray without ceasing; we must work without tiring; we must bear each other up without failing.”