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Jamaica sets six-month deadline for businesses to eliminate single-use plastic food containers

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Jamaica’s private sector is given an additional six months to exhaust its existing inventory of single-use plastic food containers, starting July 1, as outlined by Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. 

The new deadline aims to ease the transition as companies are allowed to receive orders placed before July.

Comprehensive ban on single-use plastics

Starting July 1, 2024, Jamaica will enforce a strict prohibition on the importation, distribution, sale, and use of single-use plastic food containers composed of polyethylene, polypropylene, or polylactic acid (PLA). 

This regulation, however, temporarily exempts transparent plastic lids until suitable eco-friendly alternatives are identified. 

Initially scheduled for earlier implementation, the ban’s effective date was postponed to accommodate stakeholder feedback and refine the necessary administrative procedures.

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Ongoing efforts and future expansions

This initiative marks the fourth phase in a series of bans targeting specific single-use plastic products, demonstrating the government’s commitment to protecting public health and the environment. 

The forthcoming phase, effective from July 1, 2025, will broaden the ban to include personal care and cosmetic products that contain intentionally added plastic microbeads or microplastics.

Engaging the community and stakeholders

In support of this phase, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), together with the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, is set to launch a national public education campaign. 

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This campaign will clarify the regulated products and emphasize the goal of drastically reducing plastic pollution, particularly in marine environments.

Senator Samuda emphasized the importance of collaborative support from stakeholders across sectors, including the private sector and civil society, to protect both environmental and public health from the adverse effects of plastic waste.

Proactive government engagement and policy development

The preparations for this phase involved consultations with key stakeholders, such as relevant ministries, departments, and agencies through a technical working group, as well as direct interactions with private sector representatives. 

The government plans to maintain this proactive approach, encouraging public participation and ensuring comprehensive engagement in environmental governance. 

Additionally, the government acknowledges the broader issues of plastic waste management and is developing an overarching policy to guide all related activities and public behavior toward sustainable solutions.

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