On March 20, 2018, a collaborative government task force involving the Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Commerce introduced a proposal that was approved by Belize’s Cabinet that will completely phase out the sale and distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags, Styrofoam food items, and plastic food utensils by April 22, 2019.
Currently, single-use food-grade plastic waste and shopping bags are responsible for an estimated 19% of all solid waste in Belize. The new law will work to stem the pollution of the environment by single-use plastic food items and shopping bags, especially in coastal and offshore areas, that are both an eyesore as well as a hazard to animals.
Every year, the government, ,volunteer groups, and local NGOs perform clean-ups of highways, rivers, lagoons, and coastal areas in order to restore the natural beauty of the country and to protect wildlife. Animals and birds often mistake plastic pieces for food, which can pose a choking hazard as well as potentially causing fatal injuries.
Regionally, the issue of Styrofoam and plastic pollution is a major concern for Caribbean nations. Large masses of offshore floating plastic debris have begun to affect the health of coral reefs as well as causing a detrimental effect on the tourism industry. Belize has been a regional leader in responsible environmental stewardship, having previously banned all offshore drilling as well as establishing Central America’s largest wildlife corridor. Over half of Belize’s territory is already designated as a protected environmental area or national park.
“We warmly applaud the government of Belize for taking yet another important step towards the long-term protection of the environment,” said Larry France, marketing manager of Chabil Mar. “Belize’s bio-diversity is one of this country’s greatest attractions, and we welcome eco-travelers to visit Belize to explore the pristine landscapes of this magnificent country.”
Chabil Mar is a luxury resort located on the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize. Chabil Mar is located close to some of the most pristine natural areas of the country, including the Belize Barrier Reef and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.