March 31, 2020

Jamaica: Plastic ban begins, Vaz updates the public

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From Jamaica Gleaner

Daryl Vaz – File photo

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz called a press conference to address concerns about ban on single-use plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam.

Here are highlights from his presentation.

Regulating and compensation

* Effective immediately, all stocks of single-use plastic bags of dimension 24”x24” and thickness of 1.2 mils or less and disposable plastic straws should be embargoed by manufacturers, importers and distributors in a manner as prescribed by the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority.

* It is recommended that retailers contact their suppliers regarding unused inventories of these items to facilitate the government’s determination with respect to the type and method of compensation that will be applied.

* There are some businesses which have yet to receive their alternative packaging supplies and have a small amount in stock. We have seen evidence of their supplies arriving late January to February. Based on the international trade system, to avoid breakdown and dislocation in the system, we are allowing these companies that have small amounts of stocks to use them until their supply arrives.

Customs 

* Since the September announcement, imports of plastic bags have been to the tune of $850 million. We are unable to decipher, what of that amount would be affected by the ban, based on the fact that the Asycudo code covers all plastic bags. Customs has given me the assurance that imports which come under this code in Asycudo will be flagged for physical inspections. 

Penalties 

*Today, I am pleased to announce that two Ministerial Orders have been gazetted, one under the Trade Act and the other under the Natural Resources and Conservation Authority (NRCA) Act.  These Orders provide the regulatory framework to support the policy measure announced.

The maximum fine under the Trade Act (Trade Plastic Packing Material Order) 2018, is $2,000,000, while under the NRCA (Plastic Packaging Prohibiting) Order 2018, the fine is $50,000. Both Orders carry a term of imprisonment of two years, respectively.

Ban enforcement

 “The Orders” will be enforced islandwide by a number of regulatory agencies working together and independently, namely: the , the , the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority, the National Solid Waste Management Authority, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force. I make this point because there is no need for a designated enforcement team. These entities already interact with the distributive trade and manufacturing sector extensively and daily.

In short order, the Government also hopes to announce the measures to be taken to regulate plastic bottles, particularly bottles. These policy measures being instituted by the Government, with the support of several stakeholders as well as the general public, is in line with the global thrust to minimise single-use plastic packaging.

Public education

* The public education campaign has included virtually all mainstream media channels, with public service announcements and advertising throughout the period. Approximately $25 million of media placements have been made. As one will recall, what was announced in September was indeed a phased implementation of this ban, which will span to 2019 to 2021. As such the Public Education campaign will continue through the period.

Public engagement

* Important to note NEPA established a dedicated email address: [email protected] and hotline 876-285-8531- both to provide information to and communicate with the general public.  I am advised that to date the agency has received 250 emails – all which have received responses. Two hundred calls to the hotline which have been appropriately answered and guidance provided. This represented the first tool for public education. The government is extremely pleased with the overwhelming national reaction and response to the policy announcement which has been extremely positive. The support is estimated at 90% coming from the sector groups, despite some concerns, stakeholders and consumers in general.

For more on this story go to: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20181231/plastic-ban-begins-tomorrow-vaz-updates-public

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