Jamaica Gov’t to Increase Distribution of Environmentally Friendly Bags

The Government will partner with the private sector to significantly increase the availability of environmentally friendly bags.

Speaking at a press conference at Jamaica House on Monday (December 31), Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, said the Government is looking to provide about 250,000 bags “in the immediate short-term to assist with the transition from single-use plastic”.

At least 30,000 bags are to be distributed in market districts in the coming days by mayors in order to equip Jamaicans with alternatives to plastic bags, which will be banned starting Tuesday (January 1).

Minister Vaz said that the bags will be distributed free of cost.

“It is especially for those less fortunate, who may not be in a position to be able to purchase a bag that they can continue to use,” he noted.

In a JIS News interview, President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Howard Mitchell, said the entity’s members have already been sensitised about the distribution of the bags.

“Over the Christmas, many businesses have been distributing, as gifts, the reusable shopping bags. What we want to do is sensitise our members to do more of that because it is an advertising mechanism,” he said.

“You will be seeing more branded reusable shopping bags that will be intended to replace the 24×24 single-use (plastic bags),” Mitchell continued.

Mitchell, along with the Immediate Past President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), Larry Watson, and Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (JMEA) President, Metry Seaga, are in support of the ban on single-use plastic.

Meanwhile, Mr. Vaz advised that, in short order, the Government will announce its intention to regulate polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.

“These policy measures being instituted by the Government with the support of several stakeholders, as well as the general public, are in line with the global thrust to minimise single-use plastic packaging,” he said.

Vaz noted that the Government was pleased with the overwhelming response to the policy announcement, which has largely been positive, “with support estimated at 90 per cent”.

Two Ministerial Orders have been gazetted under the Trade Act and the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Act, which provide the regulatory framework to support the ban.

The maximum fine under the Trade Act (Trade Plastic Packing Material Order) 2018 for non-compliance, is $2million, while under the NRCA (Plastic Packaging Prohibiting) Order 2018, the fine is $50,000. Both Orders carry a term of imprisonment of two years.