As Government prepares to implement a ban on plastics, importers, retailers and users have been warned that they will face serious consequences for breaching the new law.
From April 1, the ban on imports of petroleum-based, single-use products is to come into force. Three months later, on July 1, distribution, sale and use of these will be banned.
Government is proposing to enforce penalties ranging as high as $50,000 or a year’s imprisonment, or both, for importing, selling, or using single-use plastics.
The measures are contained in the Control of Disposable Plastics Bill which went through its second reading before passage in the House of Assembly on Monday.
In moving the legislation, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey, said single-use containers made of either plastic or polystyrene – Styrofoam – included cups, food containers, and egg trays used in the food service industry.
Under the bill Government proposes that anyone who imports, sells, or uses single-use plastic or cutlery after the deadline had passed would, on summary conviction, be subject to a fine of $50,000, a year’s imprisonment, or both.
An offender who continues the practice may be fined $1,000 for each day or part thereof while the offence continues.
But importers of packaging labelled “environmentally sustainable” would not be able to escape the ban, unless they obtain a licence under the new law after July 1.
The minister said: “That licence is $25 per year. This is to ensure that importers bring in the kind of products that are in compliance with what Barbados is seeking to achieve.” Importers would also be subjected to the same fines if they are caught breaching the Act.
Humphrey said the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) had been asked to establish the standards for single-use plastics to ensure that importers did not try to “trick the system”.
He announced that Government was establishing a committee of “people who are passionate about the environment” to oversee the ban.
That committee, to be represented by non-governmental organizations and public servants, is to “address, monitor, develop and implement plastic pollution programmes, and formulate and implement policies and programmes to educate the public on the pollution created by plastic”, Humphrey said.