Container bill to encourage recycling


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Category: Trinidad Society 20 July 11


Bill to prohibit land-filling of returnable containers

The dumping of more than 50 million plastic bottles (which, when heated, generate some of the deadliest toxins ever studied) and a million glass bottles into our already highly-toxic and overflowing dumps may soon stop. Minister of Housing and the Environment, Dr Roodal Moonilal, has announced that the Beverage Container Bill that which had been gathering dust since 2000 is in its final stages.

For some 50 weeks now, in this series we have been calling for waste management legislation and today we laud Dr Moonilal’s initiative to which he appears committed notwithstanding the powerful lobby of manufacturers of beverages and plastic containers. Today, Dr Moonilal as our guest columnist tells us what to expect with this long-awaited bill by every one of us who cares about our environment.


The objectives of the Beverage Container legislation are:

• To ensure that the polluter pays the external costs of the sale and consumption of beverages in beverage containers;

• create incentives the manufacturers, vendors and consumers of beverages to reuse or recycle beverage containers;

• reduce the generation of solid wastes, waste disposal and recycling costs;

• reduce litter and litter related costs and hazards; conserve natural resources and preserve the amenity of the environment and enhance the quality of life.


Some proposed features of the beverage container legislation include the following:
1. The Environmental Management Authority will be assigned responsibility for the administration of the beverage container legislation

2. An advisory committee will be created to further the objectives of the Act which may comprise, amongst others, a representative from the Ministry with the responsibility for the Environment, the Ministry of Finance, the beverage bottling industry, the beverage importing industry, the recycling industry.

3. Application of the polluter pays principle whereby bottlers, importers, vendors and consumers pay the external costs of the sale and consumption of beverages in beverage containers.

4. The beverage containers covered by the proposed legislation include sealed bottles, cans, jugs or carton composed of glass, metal, plastic, paper or any combination of those materials which contains five litres or less of beverage.

5. The beverages subject to the proposed legislation include alcoholic, fermented and malt and distilled beverages, carbonated and noncarbonated water, soft drinks and fruit drinks, mineral, spring or purified water, flavoured water or milk, milk based and milk-substitute based drinks, coffee and tea drinks as well as vegetable juices. Milk based drinks and milk-substitute drinks specially formulated for children under one-year-old will be excluded.

6. Will stipulate registration requirements for bottlers and importers of beverages and prohibits sale of beverages in beverage containers by non-registered bottlers and importers.

7. Allows for exemption from the mandatory deposit/refund system for each registered bottler or importer that has a voluntary stewardship plan for the management of their beverage containers that includes an adequate system for the collection and reuse or recycle of such containers.

8. Establishes a minimum deposit and refund value for listed returnable beverage containers sold in the country which encourages reuse and recycle of beverage containers.

9. Create incentives for entrepreneurial endeavours through the advent of collection depots where consumers may return empty returnable beverage containers. Operators of collection depots will receive the refund value of returnable beverage containers as well as a handling fee from bottlers or importers.

10. Provides a reimbursement mechanism whereby bottlers or importers are reimbursed for excess refunds paid for beverage containers.

11. Allows the EMA to appoint an independent auditor to audit the Deposit Transaction Accounts maintained by any bottler or importer to ensure that deposits, refund values and abandoned deposit amounts comply with the Act.

12. Allows the minister, by Order subject to negative resolution of Parliament to prohibit of the sale of beverages in containers that cannot be broken down by listed agents.

13. Allows the Minister, by Order subject to negative resolution of Parliament, to prohibit the incineration or land-filling of returnable beverage containers.

14. Creates a number of offences for failure to comply with various provisions of the Act whereby penalties can be imposed if found liable.

15. Allows the Environmental Trust Fund established under the Environmental Management Act to be used to issue grants to governmental entities or private organisations, including but not limited to non-profit organisations for the purposes of public education programmes on litter reduction, litter removal activities, litter-law enforcement programmes;

16. Allows for the Trustees of the Environmental Trust Fund to provide incentives, including subsidies, to bottlers for the purposes of promoting the utilisation of reusable and recyclable beverage containers; and

17. Allows for the Trustees of the Environmental Trust Fund to provide incentives, to operators of registered collection depots and of certified recycling plants for the purposes of research and evaluation of markets for reusable or recyclable beverage containers, the expansion of existing or the planning, design and construction of new recycling facilities and the purchase or lease of recycling equipment.”


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur