Thin plastic bags to be banned for use as carriers |09 June 2008
Such bags are not supposed to be given away or sold to customers in six months’ time, when the Department of Environment will start putting into practice new measures to restrict their entry into the country.
The only bags of this kind to be allowed into Seychelles will be solely for packaging use.
The move was announced by environmental officials, in line with the department’s Waste Free Seychelles initiative to combat litter and encourage recycling.
Two types of plastic bag have been targeted – the small red ones given out by takeaways and other food outlets, and the white ones printed with little red stars sold by some shops for 50 cents each.
The technical adviser for environment, Flavien Joubert, said these bags have been identified for restriction since they are of poor quality and have to be thrown away almost immediately, after being used just once.
He said most cases of litter in Seychelles now involve these two plastic bags, along with polystyrene takeaway food boxes.
This situation led the department to submit a memorandum – ‘tackling plastic bags and polystyrene takeaway boxes in Seychelles’ – for the cabinet’s consideration earlier in the year, and the ban on some plastic bags signals the start of action.
Mr Joubert said a grace period of six months will allow traders to dispose of present stocks and orders already placed. After that, spot checks will be made, in conjunction with the customs department, to ensure these bags do not come into the country.
A section of the trade tax regulations is expected to be amended in support of the new measures. People who break the ban face penalties ranging from a fine of R5,000 to a year in prison.
Mr Joubert said the new rules should not be viewed as a move to ban all plastic bags available to consumers but rather to ensure that good-quality bags, which consumers can use several times, are imported.
This way, fewer plastic bags will litter the environment and consumers will pay less for the service, which he described as a win-win situation.