Jamaican government plans to announce third phase of plastic ban

Jamaica’s Minister of Environment, Pearnel Charles Jr, says he plans to announce a third phase of the Government’s ban on single-use plastic, which takes effect in January. 

Pearnel Charles Jr

This phase will incorporate single-use plastic bags with dimensions above 24 x 24 inches and thickness of 2.5 mils.

“A ban will also be placed on single-use drinking straws made wholly or in part of polyethylene or polypropylene, attached to juice boxes or drink pouches,” he said

Charles Jr was speaking on Wednesday during the first day of the inaugural three-day Plastic Waste Management Conference that was held virtually.

Phase one of the ban, which took effect in January 2019 was on the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of specific types of single-use plastic carriers below 25-gallon capacity packaging, while the second phase, which was effected in January of this year, was on polystyrene foam.

Turn trash into cash

Charles Jr said that despite some initial hesitation, the response from the business sector to the ban “has been overwhelmingly positive”, noting that there is a private-sector-led Deposit Refund Scheme, which will provide a cash refund to consumers who return their plastic bottles.

The initiative, to be implemented by Recycling Partners Jamaica Limited, is intended to reduce littering and encourage recycling.

Depositors will be paid a minimum of $1 for each polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottle delivered to Recycling Partners depots across the island.

The Environment Minister encouraged the private sector to use the ban as an economic opportunity to turn ‘trash into cash’ and to review their operations, as well as the products and services provided to the domestic market, in order to ensure that they are more environmentally friendly.

He also urged consumers to make informed purchases about the products and services that they buy.

“The new opportunities and benefits for both consumers and producers are many, and in the long run, it is Jamaica and Jamaicans who will benefit,” he said.