Seychelles is saying goodbye to plastic bags that blow in the wind. Plastic plates, cups, and forks are also soon to be outdated. By this time next year, those items may be impossible to find in the island nation. This is good news for tourism.The Seychelles’ cabinet of ministers recently approved a ban on the importation of Styrofoam lunch boxes, as well as plastic bags, plates, cups, and cutlery beginning in January. But that’s just step one. By July 2017, those items should not even be found on store shelves in the island nation, said the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Alain Decomarmond.
“We envisage that once the ban comes into force in January, businesses which still have these items in stock will have until the end of June to get rid of their stocks and switch to environmentally-friendly alternatives,” said Decomarmond.
Decomarmond said importers would then have to provide details of the items that will replace those non-biodegradable products. The replacements will have to be certified by the Department of Environment and the Seychelles Bureau of Standards to ensure they are bio-degradable. He added that the switch is not expected to be costly for businesses.
“When we announced our intention last year to ban and eventually phase out these products, we worked on a mechanism to remove taxes on any bio-degradable items so importers of these products stand to benefit when they switch to environmentally-friendly products,” said Decommarmond.
Two local environment groups, Sustainability for Seychelles (S4S) and SIDS Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH) welcomed the announcement. As part of its public awareness campaign, last year S4S introduced bio-degradable boxes made out of sugarcane fiber for take-aways and other food outlets.
Angelique Pouponneau of SYAH, said this was definitely good news and a step in the right direction. The group carried out a “No Plastic Bag” campaign last year to encourage people to switch to other environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Pouponeau said: “Seychelles now joins France, Mauritius, Rodrigues, Comores, and Madagascar in the region, and the benefits for Seychelles include healthier oceans, because most of our plastic bags end up in the sea, which can be consumed by fish, and then we eat the fish. As such, we are also consuming plastic.”
According to a provisional study of Seychelles’ landfill, plastic wastes account for 33% of all wastes in Seychelles.