(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – The Government is to introduce a ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of single use plastic carriers (bags) below certain sizes starting in January.
At the same time, a ban will be imposed on the importation and production of plastic straws, while straws attached to Tetra Paks etc will be banned in 2021. Styrofoam used for food and beverage containers will also be banned.
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (MEGJC), Daryl Vaz, made the announcement at a press briefing at Jamaica House this morning.
According to Vaz, as at January 1, 2019, the government will impose a ban on the import,manufacture, distribution and use of all single plastic carrier bags, with dimensions at and below 24 inches by 24 inches including bags commonly referred to as ”scandal bags” and “T-shirt bags” which are used primarily in the retail and wholesale factors.
He said that the ban will not apply to single use plastic bags utilised to maintain public health or food safety standards, such as those used to package raw meats, flour, sugar, rice and baked products such as bread.
With regard to single use shopping bags made of polyethelene, commonly branded by retailers, Vaz said that the manufacturers and importers of such products must apply to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) for limited exemptions.
He said that these applications would be considered on a case-by-case basis for continued manufacture and importation, but would not be allowed later than January 1, 2021.
He added that the government would explore, with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and the Ex-Im Bank, possible mechanisms to assist companies in reconfiguring and/or re-tooling their equipment and facilities to facilitate material substitution by using “design for environment” methods to enhance their sustainability.
“Consumers are encouraged to utilise reusable carrier bags, particularly those produced by local enterprises,” the minister noted.