Gov’t mulls introducing fines to address importation, distribution of plastic bags

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Health authorities in Antigua and Barbuda are exploring the introduction of penalties for business owners and others who are caught importing, selling or distributing T-shirt shopping plastics bags, plastic straws, and other plastic utensils as well as Styrofoam food service products.
It is currently illegal to import, sell or distribute these items in the country following a programmed phase-out and subsequent banning of the items instituted by the government over a two-year period from 2016.
Implementation Coordinator in the Ministry of Health Indira James, said health authorities are looking to implement penalties to act as a deterrent for people who have failed to heed previous warnings and business owners who are still distributing the shopping bags despite extensions by the ministry to exhaust their stock.
Up to this week, officials from the ministry issued a notice to all citizens, residents and visitors reminding them that the items listed are prohibited from being imported, used, sold and distributed in Antigua and Barbuda. The ministry has also encouraged the public to adhere to the law and use recyclable bags and eco-friendly products when shopping, packing barrels and carrying out daily activities.
“So far for the year, the ministry has done three major monitoring throughout the island and during the last exercise we confiscated over 1,000 tons of plastic. That tells you the volume of plastic that is still on the streets that persons are
continuing to use,” James said.
 The ministry officials are hopeful that the imposition of fines will address the problem they are currently facing.  James said that it is important for residents in the country to follow the law, especially in light of the fact that more and more Caribbean countries are now looking to impose similar bans in their respective territories.
“We want people to understand that we are taking this out of our waters and protecting the environment,” James said. 

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