PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication (TEATT), the Honourable Arthur H.L. Lambriex, announced this week that his Ministry would begin implementing the Single-Use Plastic ban passed by Parliament in June 2022, with controls at the point of import.
“If we stop the imports, then we prevent anyone from using them,” said Minister Lambriex.
The Minister issued a release issued Tuesday, explaining that as the new Minister in the seat now and assigned to enforce this ban, “I am informing the community and business owners how we intend to do so and by when we expect complete implementation.”
The implementation process would in stages to allow the community to adjust using what Minister Lambriex calls a “step-by-step” method of approach. “We have thought the process through thoroughly and will be approaching our colleague Minister of Justice to have the Customs team start screening for imports of these single-use plastics to stop them at our borders before it gets into the island.” The Customs Department in St. Maarten is responsible for enforcing the rules and regulations pertaining to the import, export and transit of forbidden goods and the levying of import duties.
The Minister said business operators would be allowed to finish their stock of Plastic bags, straws, and Styrofoam containers, which are all mentioned in the law.
Minister Lambriex said the control at the ports of entry would have to be Step One, which must be immediately enforced. “Step two, which will be done simultaneously, is that we put out a publication addressing all store and restaurant business owners regarding the enforcement of the ban.
“We have a beautiful island, and we all agree we must protect it and ensure it stays clean, safe, and friendly for everyone. Preserving our island includes protecting the environment. New creative ways must be sought to replace these Single Use items, and suppliers must adjust their products supplied.”
Minister Lambriex acknowledged that it would not be an easy process but said, “It is a step we must take and ensure it is successful.”
The ban on Single Use plastics will require the full cooperation of the entire community. Minister Lambriex remains convinced that the combined effort of the Ministry of TEATT, The Government and the People of St Maarten can make this effort successful.
He said, “The government enforces and oversees the laws. As a customer, you can do your part by taking your reusable shopping bags to supermarkets, not accepting Plastic bags, or having your takeaway in Styrofoam. Taking one step at a time, we can reverse and stop additional damage to our planet and natural environment and ultimately “keep SXM Clean and Green” for decades and generations.
Minister Lambriex said the full implementation of the ban on Single Use Plastics is planned for August 1st 2023. The date given allows three months for complete adaptation, which according to Minister Lambriex, “is in today’s modern world equivalent to 1-year.”