KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday January 15, 2020 – Businesses defying the ban on single-use plastics and Styrofoam products are being taken before the courts, as the Jamaica government moves to ensure the measure gets complete compliance.
While admitting that there has been overwhelming support for the ban, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz yesterday in the House of Representatives that more than two dozen businesses will have to face the courts soon for failing to comply with the restrictions that took effect on January 1 last year.
He said six businesses have already been fined under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (Plastic Packaging Materials Prohibition) Order, 2018, and “30 other businesses and individuals will face the courts in the coming weeks, making a total of 36 businesses prosecuted, up to the present”.
Vaz said warning notices had been issued to the non-compliant persons and companies before enforcement action was taken.
The Minister said that while prosecution is never the preferred strategy, the Government saw the need to put in place fines for those who are non-compliant, and to ensure that the legislative backing is in place, should enforcement of the ban become a challenge.
The maximum fine under the Trade Act (Trade Plastic Packing Material Order) 2018, is J$2 million (US$15,127), while under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (Plastic Packaging Materials Prohibition) Order 2018, the fine is J$50,000 (US$378). Both orders carry a term of imprisonment of two years.
Vaz also disclosed that the Jamaica Customs Agency has also held firm at the ports of entry by confiscating banned items, preventing them from entering the trade.
However, he noted, the Government was extremely pleased with the overall positive national reaction and response to the ban. He said the support is estimated at over 90 per cent coming from the sector groups, other stakeholders and consumers in general.
“Clear evidence of the positive response is the rapid disappearance of single-use plastic bags and plastic straws from the trade and the pronounced behaviour change and attitude coming from the Jamaican people,” Vaz said.
He added that, since the ban, the country has witnessed a pronounced reduction of plastics in the terrestrial and marine environment.
“We have observed significant behaviour and attitude change with regard to the banned items and Jamaicans calling for the banning of more items such as utensils, pampers and other plastic food containers,” the Minister noted.
Vaz added that several business opportunities for large corporations and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) have also blossomed from the initiative, with businesses being developed to specialize in the alternatives.