The Government’s ban on single-use plastics will take effect as of January 1, 2019.
Minister without Portfolio for Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz announced the date this morning, Monday, September 17.
Government had already said it was moving to protect the environment by eliminating or severely restricting plastics and other material which take scores of years to deteriorate.
Speaking at a briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), St Andrew, Vaz said the move was decided to institute measures to regulate the management of specific types of plastic packaging materials in the country.
Vaz added that Jamaica has been flooded by plastics and while the problem of improper management has been recognised for some time, the scope and scale of plastic pollution is significant.
“Jamaica is literally inundated with all types of plastic including Styrofoam, much of which are referred to as single-use plastics,” he said.
The ban, which is to be implemented in phases, starts as of January 1, 2019, where the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of all single-use plastic carrier bags (also called scandal bags) with dimensions at and below 24 inches by 24 inches (24”×24”).
“This 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 backed goods, such as bread,” Vaz explained.
Additionally, come January 2019 a ban on the import of expanded polystryene foam or ‘Styrofoam’ will be enforced on use as finished good in the food and beverage industry, such as food and beverage containers.
“The local manufacture and distribution of polystyrene foam for use as finished goods in the food and beverage industry will be banned as at January 1, 2020,” Vaz further noted.
Single-use plastic straws will also be banned as of January 2019, with procedures for exemption will be developed by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), in consultation with relevant public sector agencies.
By Gavin Riley