Heavy Fines Announced for Breaching Plastic Ban Law in Barbados, But Opposition Says They’re Too High

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey announced fines as high as BDS$50,000 (US$25,000).

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday March 27, 2019 – As government prepares to implement a ban on petroleum-based plastics, importers, retailers and users have been warned that they will face serious consequences, if they breach the new law.

From April 1, the ban on importation of such petro-based single-use products will be enforced, while the distribution, sale and use of such products will be banned from July 1.

After those dates, government is proposing to enforce penalties ranging as high as BDS$50,000 (US$25,000) or a year’s imprisonment, or both, for importing, offering for sale, or using single-use plastics in Barbados.

This was announced by Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, during the second reading of the Control of Disposable Plastics Bill 2019, in the House of Assembly on Monday.

Single-use plastic containers refer to those made using plastic or polystyrene, and included cups, food containers, and egg trays used in the culinary retail industry.

Under the Bill, it is proposed that anyone who imports, offers for sale, sells or uses single-use plastic or cutlery after the deadline had passed would be guilty of an offence, and would be liable on summary conviction to the BDS$50,000 (US$25,000) fine, a year’s imprisonment, or both. And, anyone continuing the practice can be fined BDS$1,000 (US$500) for each day or part thereof, during which the offence continues.

Minister Humphrey also noted that from July 1, no person shall import, sell or use any single-use plastic containers or any single-use plastic cutlery that is labelled or marketed as “environmentally sustainable” unless that person has applied for, and obtained a BDS$25 (US$12.50) licence under the proposed Act.

“This is to ensure that importers bring in the kind of products that are in compliance with what Barbados is seeking to achieve,” he said, noting that importers would also be subjected to the same fines if they are caught breaching the proposed Act.

However, Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley says the fines outlined are too high for sellers.

“I have serious concerns about the hefty fines for infringements on the ban on plastics beyond the given date. I believe those fines are too high. You could have made two separate stipulations—one that applies to the importers and manufacturers and another for the sellers. Charging the manufacturers and importers $50,000 is fine, but I am not comfortable with it being so high for the sellers, especially the small vendors,” he told Parliament.

Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley says the fines are too high for sellers.

Meantime, Minister Humphrey told Parliament that some plastics would be exempt from the ban.

They are: plastic bags designed for, packaged and retailed specifically for the disposal of waste from households, public spaces, business places, offices or industrial plants – garbage bags; plastic bags or polystyrene containers for items for pharmaceutical dispensing or any other medical use; plastic bags or plastic containers designed for the storage of agricultural products; plastic bags used for the preservation of food items; trays made of polystyrene used in the packaging of fresh meat; plastic straws attached to tetra pack boxes; and plastic bags for the preservation of food items.

Humphrey also noted that local plastic bag manufacturers will be able to continue their trade, but for export purposes only. 

“We understand that local manufacturers do a significant share of business overseas. So, they can make them here but they cannot use them here,” he said.

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