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Speech
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Honourable Daryl Vaz, MP.

In my Sectoral Presentation to the Parliament earlier this financial year, I indicated to the nation that ‘change is coming’ in relation to the manner in which we, as Jamaicans, treat with our environment and the country’s natural resources. As an indication of that much needed change, I elaborated on, inter alia, the measures that the Government intends to take to minimize the country’s plastic waste generation and management.

The Government, through my Ministry – the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation – has made good on this commitment to the population with the implementation of a ban, on a phased basis, on single use plastics, namely plastic bags of a specified dimension and thickness, plastic drinking straws and expanded polystyrene foam products used in the food and beverage industry, effective January 1, 2019.

Implementation of the ban is governed by two Ministerial Orders, that is, The Trade (Plastic Packaging Materials Prohibition) Order, and The NRCA (Plastic Packaging Materials Prohibition) Order. The public’s response to the ban has been overwhelmingly positive and I would like to thank all Jamaicans for their continued cooperation and support in ensuring that the implementation of this measure is a success.

It is the Government’s intention to continue the public education and awareness programme being undertaken by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Jamaica Information Service across the length and breadth of the island. Additionally, the relevant regulatory agencies, including the Jamaica Customs Agency, NEPA, the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica will be intensifying their monitoring activities and commence their enforcement actions in the coming weeks. I take this opportunity to reiterate my invitation to the public to submit any queries, suggestions or comments regarding the implementation of the ban on single use plastics to policyonplasticban@nepa.gov.jm or call 876 285 8531.

Change is never easy and can be disruptive, but change is necessary, if we are to ensure a good quality of life for present and future generations of Jamaicans.

The ban on single use plastics while it serves to mitigate some of the country’s waste management challenges, is not a panacea. My colleague, the Minister of Local Government and Community Development, and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), will continue to strengthen the country’s waste management infrastructure and regulatory framework. However, the effective management of the country’s waste is not the responsibility of the Government alone, but also of the private sector, civil society and the individual. Collectively we can realize the much-needed change.

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