Thu. Sep 19th, 2019

No updates from government agencies about plastic bag ban: Biz sector

With only five months left before plastic bags are going to be phased out as mandated by the law signed in 2017, business establishments said they have not received any memorandum nor regulations pertaining to the implementation of the law.

The Plastic Bag Use Reduction Act or RPPL 10-14, which was signed into law by President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. on November 8, 2017, bans stores or other retail establishments from importing or distributing bags to customers.

Island Times visited some retail stores in Koror to inquire if they had received any updates or memorandum pertaining to the plastic bag ban. A staff from one of the stores visited said they had only learned about the ban upon the media’s inquiry but was quick to add that they do not have a problem complying with the law. In a separate establishment, Island Times also learned that some business operators had been informed by the Bureau of Customs about the plastic bag ban during a meeting last year but after that, they have not heard nor received any memorandum from the government about the regulations pertaining to the ban.

Surangel and Sons Co., owner of one of the biggest shopping centers in Palau, also told Island Times that they had not received any updates from the government, except from the law itself, regarding the implementation of the plastic bag ban. The company, however, explained they had taken their own initiative to raise awareness about the harmful effects of plastics and to promote reusable bags.

“Our company believes we should do all we can to reduce the use of plastic and continue to promote reusable bags, biodegradable plates and cups, and other environmentally friendly products in our stores and within our communities,” the Surangels Company said in a statement sent to Island Times.

Surangels Shopping Center in fact is implementing a ‘No Plastic Bag’ initiative every Sunday to raise awareness and encourage customers to use reusable bags. It is also providing five cents off every purchase if their customer uses reusable bags when shopping. The company also said that since 2000, they had been using green biodegradable plastic bags that can decompose after a year of exposure.

“In the spirit of being good corporate citizens, our company believes we should do all we can to reduce the use of plastic and continue to promote reusable bags, biodegradable plates and cups, and other environmentally friendly products in our stores and within our communities,” it said in their statement.

Meanwhile, Island Times reached out to several government agencies to ask for any updates about the law’s implementation but has not received definite answers yet as of press time. The media is told that an official statement about the subject will be released next week.

The Plastic Bag Use Reduction Act gives two-year transition that allows establishments to use plastic bags following the effectivity of the law. After the transition period, retail establishments are prohibited to provide plastic bags that are not biodegradable or compostable to their customers.  Importation of plastic bags, however, are already prohibited during the first year of the law’s effectivity.

The Plastic Bag Ban Act will turn two-years old this November 8, 2019. It is part of the government’s supposed measure to preserve the environment. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)