Listen Live On Our Live Stream or Tune To Our Frequencies: 88.3 FM | 88.9 FM | 94.7 FM | 95.1 FM | 98.1 FM | 98.5 FM

GOB’s Plastic Ban Now Being Enforced

The Government’s ban on single-use plastic products took effect at the start of the month but many businesses are still using these prohibited items. The importation of single-use plastics such as foam cups, plates, and containers, as well as plastic forks, spoons, and straws, were strictly prohibited since April of 2021. Minister of Sustainable Development Orlando Habet says that importers and businesses owners were given enough time to prepare for the ban and are now going to be held responsible for the offense.

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management: The problem is right now that we know that, especially stores have bought products still have some of their single use plastics and so the Department of the Environment has commenced doing a monitoring and the problem here is that they can’t reach all the stores in all the towns and the two cities and the villages all at the same time so it will take some time. But what we are doing is, we have put out more information out there informing the people that this has come into effect and informing households also because the ads address not only the importers and the distributors but also the retailers and also the public. And so I think that once you want to comply and you know this is a regulation then people have to start complying. Yes it will take some time before they reach all the stores and so that will be a problem. Where the biggest problem lies though is if you have an importer who has plenty of this product. They knew many months, two years ago, that this would have come to an end and so what the Department of the Environment has done is they have gone on radio, have been on TV programmes addressing this issue and informing them that what they can do is they can go in and they can together so that they can find someway of adequately disposing the plastics and so that they can start complying. It’s not that we’ve come down with a big heavy hammer and started knocking on everybody’s door and trying to fine them or anything. That’s not the intention. The intention is to phase it out and then eventually you will have everybody complying.”

Habet says that his Ministry is now looking to invest in the recycling and reusing of single-use plastics. The Minister hopes to partner with the private sector to ensure that single-use plastics become a thing of the past.

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management: What we are trying to do is to try to see how we can encourage investment into recycling and reuse. We speak a lot of the circular economy. That will be a big part of creating a portion of that circular economy where you can get these products but can convert them into something else so that they can be reused. So if I can use the plastic cup, why not use harder material that even if it’s plastic like those water bottles that you can keep and reuse three or four years and still find a way how to dispose of those when they are no longer usable and they can be recycled. Now the issue of pollution is not stopped by converting those into biodegradable products because I can still, somebody can still throw away a biodegradable cup, or a plate, or a clamshell through the window of a bus or through a vehicle and it still comes out on the highways so that doesn’t stop that. That would be something else that we need to address in terms of garbage pollution. But certainly we believe that if we as true concerned Belizeans that we want to do well, we can do it. So apart from what the legislation calls for, we are also now engaging our units within the ministry so that we can encourage the non-use of all plastics within our protected areas, for example, in the Pine RIdge, in the Chiquibul, or any protected area that anyone goes to visit.”

At this point, owning more than ten single-use plastic products under the law is now a criminal offence.