Silence dominates initiative to ban plastic grocery bags

POSTED: 11/19/14 9:11 PM

Topic also on the agenda of European Commission

St. Maarten – The plans to ban single use plastic grocery bags has a long history in St. Maarten. Motions from MPs Frans Richardson and Johan Leonard date back to 2012, but the bottom line has not changed: there still is no legislation to take these plastic bags out of the equation. St. Maarten is not alone in its struggle with what seems to be a simple issue.

The European Union is even arguing about the abolishment of plastic grocery bags. “Everybody wants it, but there is an enormous discord about the way this has to be done,” the Volkskrant reported yesterday.

The European Commission in Brussels wants one general rule that will enable EU member states to ban the polluting packaging material. The countries and the European parliament however, reached a different agreement on Monday – a compromise.

The European Commission expressed its concerns about this agreement yesterday. European Commissioner Frans Timmermans (Better Rules) has put the topic on the agenda for today’s consultation in the European Commission.

The member states and the European Parliament want to drive back the use of single use grocery bags in phases – from 90 bags per person in 2019, to forty in 2025. As an alternative, it remains possible to charge for the bags, or to tax them.

Timmermans said already last week that he is not happy with all the amendments. “I am not sure whether this is what we had in mind in the beginning.”

According to the European Commission Europeans use on average almost 200 plastic bags per year. Ninety percent of these plastic bags are single use.

The attempts to legislate a ban on plastic grocery bags in St. Maarten seemed to get underway in June 2012 – more than two years ago. On June 11, 2012, MP Johan Leonard told this newspaper that the legislation “could be tabled in Parliament as early as next week.”

That week passed, and nothing happened. In March 2012, Leonard and Frans Richardson tabled a motion in Parliament that called for legislation to ban plastic grocery bags within ninety days. Parliament approved the motion, and the MPs got the law office of VanEpsKunnemanVandoorne involved in drafting the law. Since then, everything has gone quiet and the initiative seems to be all but forgotten.

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