Don’t Let Go: Plastics Ban To Include $2,000 Balloons Fine


By Ava Turnquest
Tribune Chief Reporter

The upcoming ban on single-use plastics will also outlaw the release of balloons, according to draft legislation that details fines up to $3,000.

The plastic ban legislation outlines up to six months imprisonment for people who assault, resist, impede, or make false statements to an inspection officer. However, businesses will be able to possess and sell prohibited plastics to customers up to June 30, 2020 for a fee. 

If convicted under the proposed legislation, a first time offender faces a fine not exceeding $2,000, and in the case of a continuing offence, $500 for each day the offence continues. A second or subsequent offence will be met with a fine not exceeding $3,000, and further fine of $700 for each day it continues. 

If passed, the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019 will prohibit single-use plastic foodware and non-biodegradable, oxo-biodegradable and biodegradable single-use plastic bags; prohibit the release of balloons; and regulate the use of compostable single-use plastic bags.

Single-use plastic foodware outlined in the bill include: Styrofoam cups, plates and other similar Styrofoam foodware used to contain food; plastic knives, forks, spoons and straws.

Businesses will be allowed to sell compostable single-use plastic bags for 25 cents to $1, excluding VAT.

Business will not be able to sell these bags to customers at the point of sale, and if they do, the sale of the bag must be separately stated on the receipt and identified as a “checkout bag fee”.

Business will be allowed to keep the fees collected for the sale of these bags; however, a record must be kept of the number of bags supplied during the reporting year, along with the gross and net proceeds of the sale.

Failure to keep a record is an offence with a fine up to $2,000, and failure to supply a copy of the record to the ministry carries a fine up to $1,000.

Compostable single-use plastic bags will be exempt from the ban along with a number of others based on their intended use like party bags, dry cleaning, food and hardware storage, newspaper deliveries and trash.

“A bag intended to be used solely to contain wholly or partly unwrapped food for human consumption, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, ground coffee, grains, or candies; a bag intended to be used solely to contain uncooked fish or fish products, meat or meat products, or poultry or poultry products; a bag intended to be used solely to contain wholly or partly unwrapped loose seeds, bulbs, corns, rhizomes, flowers, or goods contaminated by soil; a bag used for pharmaceutical dispensing or any other medical use,” the bill notes. 

The exempt list continues: “A bag intended to be used solely to contain live aquatic creatures in water; a bag intended to be used solely for the transport or storage of agricultural products; a bag with a thickness of at least 3 mils thick that is intended to be used solely to package hardware items; a bag that is an integral part of the packaging in which a good is sealed prior to its delivery to a point of sale; and a bag intended to be used solely to contain ice for retail.”

The law will not apply to plastic manufactured locally for export.

Draft bills for the Ministry of Environment Bill 2019 and the Environmental Planning and Protection Bill 2019 were also released for public consultation. 

The MOE Bill seeks to establish the Ministry of the Environment to oversee the integrity of the environment and to establish the Environmental Administration Fund and the Environmental Trust Fund.

The planning bill seeks to establish the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection, to provide for the prevention or control of pollution, the regulation of activities, and the administration, conservation and sustainable use of the environment.

It provides for the establishment of an integrated environmental management system, providing a legal framework for the protection, enhancement and conservation of the environment, and for the sustainable management, use, development and enjoyment of the environment.

Rachel Chea