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Police have no enforcement plan ahead of single-use plastic ban

Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle said yesterday the Royal Bahamas Police Force does not yet know how government’s ban on single-use plastics will be enforced.

According to the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Act, 2019, as of tomorrow, no person shall import, distribute, manufacture, possess, sell, supply, or use, in The Bahamas, any of the banned single-use plastic products.

Among the prohibited items as outlined in the act are polystyrene cups, polystyrene plates and other similar polystyrene foodware used to contain food, plastic knives, plastic forks, plastic spoons and plastic straws.

The act also prohibits anyone from releasing balloons filled with gas and outlines that offenders may face fines for violating the act.

“I couldn’t say exactly how that is going to be enforced. I don’t know if there’s any penalty for the use of [plastic bags]. I guess that’s a guide, hey?” Rolle said.

He added, “I have not seen the regulations on it. Obviously, if it becomes a problem, then the government would have to put a regulation as to how it will be regulated and then we will enforce the regulation.

“But as it stands now, the January 1, as I’m aware of it, is only the beginning of the process to implement the ban.”

The act also outlines that businesses have until June 30, 2020 to possess prohibited items, on the condition that the items are sold to customers at a fee no less than 25 cents and no more than one dollar, excluding value-added tax.

Rolle acknowledged the grace period and said it would be up to the customs department to prevent prohibited items from getting into the country in the first place.

“Right now, there are a number of the wholesalers who still have a very large stock and they have until the end of June to dispose of them,” Rolle said.

“The ban will also mean prohibition of importation. If customs prevents it, then we don’t have to enforce it.”

He added, “As much as I’m aware, stores have up until June to dispose of the plastic bags and other products and then the Bahamas Customs [Department has] a role to play and to ensure that those stuff are not allowed into the country.

“I would imagine, after the moratorium has ended – the period that they give persons to dispose of them – then we would have to take action as necessary.

“The laws will be enforced. I couldn’t tell you today how that will be done but obviously if the persons are going to be in breach, we’ll have to enforce the law.”

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