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Business urged to prepare for single-use plastics ban come January 1

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Businesses are being urged to ready themselves for the introduction of the single-use plastic ban on January 1, and the subsequent six-month transition period before fines are imposed.

Senior Environmental Officer at the Ministry of the Environment & Housing Dr. Rhianna Neely told Eyewitness News Online businesses will no longer be able to import single-use plastic bags, styrofoam containers and cups, plastic utensils and plastic straws after the deadline.

“Come January 1, 2020 businesses will not be able to import any of the forbidden items into the country,” she said.

“What is not cleared off the dock by December 31, 2019 will not be allowed. On January 1, businesses will have to begin charging for the bags specially.

“The other items they have on the shelf, during that transition period they will still be allowed to sell them until the end of the period which is June 30,” said Neely.

She continued: “With the bags, businesses have leeway in terms of the amount they want to sell them for $0.25 to $1 is the range. It’s per bag and not per customer. The money stays with the business.

“If you are a Vat-able business you have to pay VAT to the government. The Chamber of Commerce brought to our attention the fact that not all businesses issue receipt.

“Even with those that do not issue a receipt they have inventory of the bags they have and they should have an inventory because the legislation requires that if they sell them they must keep a record of what was sold.”

She said: “The government is not expecting to collect any of the money from the proceeds of the bag except for those business responsible for collecting VAT.”

Dr Neely noted the cost of the bags must appear on a customer’s receipt as a ‘check-out bag fee”.

Businesses could ultimately face fines of up to $2,000 if they are found in contravention of the law after the transition period.

Debbie Deal, head of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce’s Energy and Environment division said: “Businesses have to be ready for this come January 1. They have to show the bag fee on the customer’s receipt and so they need to make the necessary adjustments for that. They also have to keep records.

“We realize that there are businesses all over the country, small mom and pop shops that do not give receipts but they are going to have to start doing so,” Deal said.

“A lot of businesses are going to have to become more detailed oriented.”

In April 2018, The Ministry of Environment and Housing signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation’s (BCCEC) Energy and Environment Committee focused on the elimination of single-use plastics and Styrofoam containers for food and beverage.

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