DOE Looking to Move Forward in Full Force to Implement Sanctions for Plastic Ban Violations
At the beginning of last year, the Department of the Environment (DOE) announced the nationwide implementation of the single-use plastic ban, which would come into full effect in March. This move is aimed at reducing the environmental threat that these non-biodegradable products pose to the environment. The ban included everything from cutlery to plates and straws, as well as plastic bags that you would normally see at grocery stores. The department has been steadfast in its effort to ensure the maximum efficiency of this ban; however, the department has also been made aware of certain importers bringing in illegal items. The DOE’s Chief Environment Officer, Anthony Mai, explains that the department has launched an investigation to determine who the violator is. He adds that in order to follow through with appropriate sanctions, the department must provide irrefutable evidence of the violation.
Anthony Mai, Chief Environmental Officer, Department of the Environment: “We haven’t really honed in on the exact company that is bringing it in illegally but we’re still conducting our investigation but in terms of the overall activity that we’re doing with regards to the assessment we have collected samples of registered biodegradable products countrywide I think this week we will send those out to a laboratory in the United States to get tested and then when we get back the results we will be able to determine if the biodegradable products that are being implemented are really biodegradable and if they meet our national standards. So that will be the first step. So we’re doing two things we’re doing a market surveillance and we’re grabbing samples of some of the products to be tested. The market surveillance is still not yet completed. When it is completed it will give us a good picture of what is in the market, the restricted products and some of the prohibited products that are still available. So we’re’ still seeing some prohibited products and then we’ll develop a plan in terms of how to deal with those. One of the concerns right now that we have is if we take a product off the shelf and we say okay I’m going to charge you because this is illegal we need to have documentation, we need to have proof that it’s actually a prohibited item, that is the procedure that we’re trying to establish. We need to ensure that yes this is for example a styrofoam product we need to have documentation to prove that in court if we are to charge anyone so we’re putting processes in place to be able to do that.”