Plastic bags block gutters and drains, choke farm animals and marine wildlife and pollute the soil as they gradually break down. Mauritius wants to do away with plastic bags so as to not only contribute to the safeguarding of the environment but also to encourage sustainable development. Consequently, for a smooth transition to a plastic bag-free Mauritius, the Environment Protection (Banning of Plastic Bags) Regulations 2015 have been amended to avoid all confusion around the definitions of plastic and plastic bags. The regulations prohibit import, manufacture, sale, or supply of a plastic bag as from 01st January 2016.
The regulations concern only the vest-type plastic bags, roll-on bags and Non-Woven Polypropylene bags, which are designed to carry goods purchased at points of sale such as wholesale and retail outlets, markets, fairs and hawkers. The import, manufacture, sale or supply of biodegradable and compostable plastic bags is allowed subject to strict conformity to appropriate standards specified in the regulations. Moreover, the regulations do not allow for non-woven polypropylene bags.
However, 11 types of plastic bags have been exempted for essential uses and hygienic and sanitary purposes, namely:
a) A transparent roll-on bag solely used to contain fresh, chilled or frozen seafood, meat, poultry, or offal other than canned food or eggs;
b) A bag designed to be used for the disposal of waste;
c) A bag designed for agricultural purposes;
d) A bag used for the purpose of sampling or analysis;
e) A bag that constitutes, or forms an integral part of the packaging in which goods are sealed prior to sale on the local market or for export;
f) A transparent pocket-type bag not exceeding 300 cm2 in size;
g) A transparent re-sealeable bag with security tamper used by a passenger to contain liquids, aerosols or gels at an airport or on board of an aircraft or carried by a transfer passenger;
h) A bag carried by a passenger disembarking from an aircraft or a ship for the purpose of carrying personal belongings; and
i) A bag manufactured for export.
j) A biodegradable plastic bag on which particulars are conspicuously displayed and;
k) A compostable plastic bag on which particulars are conspicuously displayed
Doing away with plastic bags is expected to also open up new avenues for our local entrepreneurs to engage in green projects. Women entrepreneurs, most specifically can now engage in bag production using diverse materials such as jute and cloth.