By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Companies will be fined if they still have banned plastic products on their shelves or in inventory come July 1, government officials have warned.
Dr Rhianna Neely-Murphy, senior environmental officer with the Department of Environmental Health, along with environmental officer, Lyndee Bowe, reaffirmed to Tribune Business the government's commitment to ending the use of single-use plastic bags, styrofoam containers and related plastic utensils.
Dr Neely-Murphy said: "As of July 1, any of the forbidden items, if they are found on your shelf or in your store you can be fined and, depending on the severity of the fine, it will be up to $5,000 or $7,000.
"If you release a balloon, there is a fine up to $2,000 and subsequent fines if you are caught doing it again. If you sell any of the banned items after this transition period [January 1 to June 30, 2020] there are fines up to $5,000 and then subsequent fines. If you are a retailer and you are not reporting on the bags that you sold, there are fines up to $1,000 and subsequent fines if you continually don't report."
Dr Neely-Murphy added: "If you are a restaurant and you have Styrofoam, between January 1 and June 30 you can continue to sell those until the stock is completed, but if you are a restaurant and, on July 1, your stock is not completed and officers come and make an inspection of your store, you would incur fines because that transition period is over."
New Year's Day saw the start of food and other stores charging between 25cents to $1 per plastic bag at the point-of-sale. The border ban importing the prohibited plastic items is also in effect, along with the bar on releasing balloons into the atmosphere. There is a six-month transition between January 1 to July 1, 2020, for companies to run down existing stocks of prohibited items.
The Department of Environmental Health duo, meanwhile, also responded to a social media post that went viral over the past week showing some boxes of plastic bags being sold by the case from Super Value.
They said: "We saw it needful to do some extra PR on the plastic bag ban. We want to let people know that the bags are being banned at the border, and we do not encourage people to buy bags, especially as an individual or a household, because the likelihood you will be able to take them into a store and use them is very slim.
"The stores have to show that they sold you a bag on that visit, and if they can't show that and an inspector comes then that store can be fined. You have to show on the receipt, and the store has to keep records that have to be submitted on a yearly basis."
Dr Murphy added: "Right now we are working with (the Department of) Inland Revenue to make this a part of your application for a business license. So if you have a business license, it will be an add-on to your business license. E-businesses also need to go through the similar processes to record that you are selling the bags."