Efforts to create an even cleaner Seychelles have kicked into high gear after a country-wide ban on common plastic items went into effect over the weekend.
Businesses had until Friday to ensure that no plastic plates, cuts, or Styrofoam takeaway boxes could be found on store shelves. The ministry of environment, energy and climate change said last week it will be confiscating any of those items that it sees.
In September, Seychelles' cabinet of ministers approved a ban on the importation of Styrofoam takeaway boxes, and plastic items such as carrier bags, plates, cups and cutlery. While the ban of the importation took effect on January 1st, businesses were given until the beginning of July to use up their stock.
The director general for waste, enforcement, and permit section in the ministry told journalists last week that at all is ready for the second step in the phase out process.
"Since January importation is restricted, however, there is an exemption list. And as of Saturday July 1st, there will be a complete ban on the manufacturing, distribution as well as commercial use of all these items."
Nanette Laure said that already a number of importers are sending samples of environmentally friendly alternatives. "We have been sent biodegradable items which disintegrate after a few months and these include bags, there are re-useable bags as well as those made of cloth."
The ministry is collaborating with the Seychelles Bureau of Standards to ensure that the replacements are bio-degradable.
Laure said that the ban exempts plastics used in the agricultural sector, industrial packaging sold in frozen conditions, and plastics used in the disposal of waste such as bin liners.
As a way of ensuring that the ban on these items is respected, the ministry is working closely with the trade and customs division of the Seychelles Revenue Commission to screen all requests for import permits.
"We will be monitoring and following up with all known retailers to ensure that these plastics are no longer entering the country." A task force will be set up within the division to ensure that the ban is respected.
Under the Environment Protection regulation 2017 which is the restriction on manufacturing, importation and distribution of plastic bag, the Environment ministry can fine businesses not adhering to the ban.
According to a provisional study of the landfill in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, plastic wastes account for 33 percent of all wastes.