Countrywide ban on plastic bags by 2021

…EPA to submit Cabinet memorandum

By Jarryl Bryan

Government is making serious moves towards a ban on the use of plastic bags in Guyana, a move that, while it may have a blow-back effect on businesses, can move Guyana ahead in its environment protection plans.
According to Minister of State Joseph Harmon at a post-Cabinet press conference on Friday, the ending of the use of plastic bags across Guyana is on the Government’s agenda. He explained that plastic is a problem across the world and Guyana, for its part, was not exempted from the consequences of this pollution.
“Cabinet agreed that the matter had to be addressed if we were truly committed to the tenets of our green state development strategy… It was further agreed that the Government would adapt and institute measures to minimise the use of plastic and propose appropriate legislation to give effect to these measures,” the Minister explained.
According to Harmon, a Cabinet memorandum was prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This memorandum, he noted, is slated to be examined by Cabinet within a week. He explained that the memorandum details the phasing out of plastic. Providing a timeline, Harmon was optimistic that the ban could be pulled off by the year 2021.
“The intention is not going to be immediate, but they are basically going to get people, over time, to wean themselves off of plastics. There are six supermarkets that have indicated willingness to work with the EPA that they start to reduce… the use of plastic bags.”
“The important thing is that it’s these single use plastics, the things that you use one time and then throw it away, it’s the single use plastics that are initially targeted. The six supermarkets that came on board, we want to commend them on their initiative,” he said.
It had recently been announced that the EPA would be partnering with supermarkets in Georgetown to minimise the use of plastic bags, as part of Earth Day 2018. Guyana Times was informed of this partnership by the Director within Technical Secretariat, Sharifah Razack.
The Director had noted that six major supermarkets in Georgetown, as well as their subsidiaries, have expressed their willingness to participate in the drive to reduce the usage of plastic bags.
Those supermarkets include Bounty, Mathais, Survival, Budget, Distribution Services Limited (DSL) and Massy. It is understood that these supermarkets will use boxes, reusable bags and biodegradable bags to pack their customers’ goods. They are also urging persons to walk with their bags, so as to curb the plastic situation in Guyana.

The implementation of this new initiative comes at a time when Guyana happens to be one of the countries in the Caribbean that is mostly affected by plastic pollutants.
In Guyana, plastic articles, specifically plastic bags have been the reason for clogged drains, trenches and canals and often times result in flooding over the years. As though a precursor to banning plastic, the Government took a decision to place a ban on Styrofoam back in 2016, after much contention.