Single-use plastic bags will cost extra after ban goes into effect
By Chester Robards
Customers who require single-use plastic bags after the single-use plastic ban goes into effect on January 1, 2020 will have to pay extra.
Businesses will be required to charge their customers for the use of the bags that will be banned from being imported by law when the calendar flips over to 2020, according to a press release explaining the process.
The release outlines section eight of the newly created Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019, which says businesses will “be required to charge customers a minimum of twenty-five cents (excluding value-added tax) per bag at the point of sale for the use of single-use plastic bags as of January 1, 2020”. It adds that customers cannot be charged more than $1, excluding value-added tax, for the use of plastic bags.
The bill was tabled in the House of Assembly on Thursday last week.
Senior Environmental Officer at the Ministry of the Environment and Housing Dr. Rhianna Neely said charging for the use of the bags is the “boldest” way to curb the proliferation of single-use plastic bags.
“Many countries, including Denmark and Ireland, have seen as much as a 90 percent reduction in plastic bag usage and litter after introducing similar legislation,” Neely said.
“We can’t project whether or not we’ll see similar numbers, but this is a fantastic start to managing our crippling plastic pollution problem.”
According to the release, the business establishment will retain the money from the purchase of the bags and will present a customer with a separate receipt for the cost of the bags.
“The implementation of these fees will complement the ban on the importation, distribution and manufacture of single-use plastic bags, which will also come into effect on January 1, 2020, along with a ban on Styrofoam containers and cups, plastic utensils and plastic straws,” the release stated.
“The release of balloons into the air will also be made illegal on this date.”
Fines of up to $2,000 could be levied on anyone who attempts to import, distribute, manufacture, sell, supply or use plastic bags.
“These fees will not be charged on bags for pharmaceutical dispensing, dry cleaning bags, bags that contain ice for retail and several other types,” the release stated.
The list of the types of bags that are excluded from the ban can be found in the bill, which can be downloaded from the “Plastic Free 242” campaign website at www.plasticfree242.com.