Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., says he will be making an announcement shortly on the third phase of the Government’s ban on single-use plastic, which takes effect in January 2021.
This phase will incorporate single-use plastic bags with dimensions 24 x 24 inches and above with thickness of 2.5 mils
“A ban will also be placed on single-use drinking straws made wholly or in part of polyethylene or polypropylene, attached to juice boxes or drink pouches,” the Minister said.
He was speaking on the first day of the inaugural three-day Plastic Waste Management Conference held virtually on Wednesday (December 2).
Phase one of the ban, which took effect in January 2019 was on the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of specific types of single-use plastic carriers below 25-gallon capacity packaging, while the second phase, which was effected in January of this year, was on polystyrene foam.
Minister Charles Jr. said that despite some initial hesitation, the response from the business sector to the ban “has been overwhelmingly positive”, noting that there is a private-sector-led Deposit Refund Scheme, which will provide a cash refund to consumers who return their plastic bottles.
The initiative, to be implemented by Recycling Partners Jamaica Limited, is intended to reduce littering and encourage recycling.
Depositors will be paid a minimum of $1 for each polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottle delivered to Recycling Partners depots across the island.
Mr. Charles Jr. encouraged the private sector to use the ban as an economic opportunity to turn ‘trash into cash’ and to review their operations, as well as the products and services provided to the domestic market, in order to ensure that they are more environmentally friendly.
He also urged consumers to make informed purchases about the products and services that they buy.
“The new opportunities and benefits for both consumers and producers are many, and in the long run, it is Jamaica and Jamaicans who will benefit,” the Minister noted.
The Minister said that plastic is the third highest category of waste at the island’s waste-disposal facilities. He noted that while the material is a cheap and convenient way of packaging, its toll on the environment is too costly.
As such, he is urging consumers to reuse, recycle and to rethink in order to protect the environment.
The three-day conference is being hosted by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) under the theme ‘Tackling Plastics Together…Stimulating Innovation in Jamaica’.
The event is a key deliverable under the Plastic Waste Minimisation Project, which is being funded by the Government of Japan through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) International Environmental Technology Centre and the Government of Jamaica.
The conference aims to create a platform to facilitate the active exchange of information among key plastic-consuming, producing, and regulating stakeholders. The event will also highlight the critical steps towards reducing plastic pollution in Jamaica.