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  • Speaking at a virtual press conference on Friday (Dec. 18), Minister Charles Jr. said that based on discussions with the relevant public and private sector stakeholders, the Government has decided to grant a six-month transition period for businesses and consumers, before fully effecting enforcement of the ban.
  • Minister Charles Jr. said that during the six months, there will also be an ongoing review of the ban, to ensure that it remains effective, noting that feedback will be welcomed.
  • 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 of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. says that businesses and consumers will have until June 2021 to become fully compliant with the measures under the third phase of the ban on single-use plastics, which take effect on January 1.

This phase relates to the importation, distribution, manufacture and use of commercial single-use plastic bags of dimensions not exceeding  24”x24”  (610mm X 610mm), and thickness of 2.5 mils (0.06mm).

It also includes drinking straws made wholly or in part of polyethylene or polypropylene, manufactured for single-use, and attached to, or forming part of the packaging of juice boxes or drink pouches.

Speaking at a virtual press conference on Friday (Dec. 18), Minister Charles Jr. said that based on discussions with the relevant public and private sector stakeholders, the  Government has decided to grant a six-month transition period for businesses and consumers, before fully effecting enforcement of the ban.

“Within this period, it is expected that the private sector will deplete or replace all affected products currently circulated in the trade. It is expected that they will ensure that their production processes are retrofitted, as appropriate, to facilitate compliance with the provisions of the ban,” he noted.

At the same time, the public education and awareness-raising activities surrounding the ban will be ramped up.

The sensitisation drive, which is being led by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), had suffered some set back due to the pandemic.

Minister Charles Jr. said that during the six months, there will also be an ongoing review of the ban, to ensure that it remains effective, noting that feedback will be welcomed.

He informed that at the end of the grace period, “the Government intends to institute prosecutions in the parish courts, for all persons found in breach of the Orders.”

Minister Charles Jr. is calling on all Jamaicans to comply with the ban and “actively seek out and patronise those companies that produce environmentally-friendly products for the market, and have a good track record of environmental performance.”

Industry, at the same time, is being asked to respond to market demand for eco-friendly products, including minimising plastic packaging and re-designing products.

“The Government will continue to support our partners in the private sector – the engine of growth – in doing business while, at the same time, ensuring that the environmental and public health of the country is safeguarded,” he assured.

Chief Executive Officer and Government Town Planner, NEPA, Peter Knight, noted that efforts were made to inform the public about the ban via the electronic and print media as well as during island-wide sensitisation sessions.

He said that the use of electronic billboards, radio, and television public service announcements, and social media engagements will follow in the coming weeks.

Mr. Knight informed that along with the ban, the Government will be pursuing a number of new policy measures based on assessments carried out as part of the recently concluded regulatory impact assessment on single-use plastics.

Additionally, he said that NEPA is executing a Plastic Waste Minimization Project, which will support and build on the Government’s trust to reduce the use of single-use plastics.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), Hopeton Heron, informed that the standards for biodegradable plastics will be in place by the first quarter of next year, noting that preparations are well advanced.

In the interim, international standards are being utilised to inform decisions.

Mr. Heron is inviting manufacturers, distributors, and users of plastics to take their products to the Bureau for the necessary chemical composition and thickness tests to be done.

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.

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