Strict penalties for offenders as Litter Act comes into effect

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The Litter Act – that will result in stiffer penalties for people caught dumping illegally – will take effect from tomorrow, Thursday.

Minister of Health and the Environment Molwyn Joseph made the announcement Monday on OBSERVER Radio, stating that over the next few weeks the ministry will engage in discussions with the business community and other key stakeholders, beginning with those in the capital, St. John’s.

“We hope to engage the business establishments in Antigua and Barbuda to alert them of the new rules in putting out their waste for collection. It is going to require specifics in terms of how you package your waste,” Joseph said.

One implication is that businesses will no longer get away with discarding empty boxes on the side of the street in expectation that they will be collected as is.

“They are going to be required to break down those boxes and have them bound so that another collection process will take place because those are recyclables,“ Minister Joseph said.

The Litter Control and Prevention Bill was passed in February this year, repealing the current Litter Act. In anticipation of the enforcement of this new law, several garbage receptacles were placed in strategic locations, beginning in the city of St John’s.

The minister also addressed concerns from residents about the size of the bins, which some opined were too small. He admitted that the government was not able to afford larger bins, but stated that this is to encourage recycling in the country.

“We wish we could have afforded bins slightly larger, but the reason for the size of these bins is for the recycling process. We ultimately hope to be in a position where the mothers and the fathers and the children, when they are at home, will be able to separate their waste,” Minister Joseph said.

“If we can separate waste in terms of their streams, we will not have any need for the mounds of garbage down at the sanitary landfill,” he added.

However, in noting that the size of the bins may not allow for the disposing of all waste material, Joseph said a contractor has been hired and will be going through the city every two hours, monitoring the bins.

“As we study that, if it requires faster rotation, we will increase it and if it requires less rotation, we will make the adjustments,” Joseph said.

He expounded further by saying that the people involved in policing the bins are required to document and report the state of the bins so that provisions can be made if additional bins are needed at a site.

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