As a solution to a major solid waste management problem, a ban on plastics came into effect on July 1, 2017, in the Republic of Seychelles. (Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade, Notification: Seychelles – Plastic Bags, G/TBT/N/SYC/3 (July 2, 2017), World Trade Organization (WTO) website (click on “English” hyperlink to view text of the Notification).) Seychelles has seen a significant increase in plastic waste in recent years. Research conducted in June 2016 revealed that 33% of all waste in the country comprised plastic bags. (Id.)
The Cabinet of Ministers of Seychelles reacted to the environmental crisis by approving two sets of regulations imposing restrictions on importation, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of plastic bags and on plastic utensils and polystyrene boxes (Environment Protection (Restriction on Manufacturing, Importation and Distribution of Plastic Bags) Regulations 2017 (Jan. 10, 2017) (Regulations on Bags), WTO website; Environment Protection (Restriction on Importation, Distribution and Sale of Plastic Utensils and Polystyrene Boxes) Regulations 2017 (Regulations on Utensils) (both Jan. 10, 2017), both WTO website.) The two statutory instruments came into effect on July 1, 2017.
The regulations on plastic bags forbid the importation, manufacture, or distribution of plastic bags for use in Seychelles unless the object is listed in the regulations as exempted. (Regulations on Bags, art. 3.) As an alternative, biodegradable bags are to be used instead. (Id. art. 4(1)(b).) The regulations on plastic utensils prohibit the manufacture, importation, and distribution of plastic utensils and polystyrene boxes in Seychelles and specifically ban plastic forks, spoons, knives, plates, bowls, cups, trays, and takeaway boxes made of polystyrene used to contain food. (Regulations on Utensils, arts. 2 & 3.)
The regulations allow some exceptions to the ban. Plastic bags used for disposal of waste or for medical, agricultural, sampling or analysis, or airport security uses (for liquids, aerosols, or gels taken on board planes) may continue to be imported under authorization. (Regulations on Bags, art. 3 – First Schedule.) Plastic bags used for the purposes of carrying personal belongings (by passengers disembarking from an aircraft or a ship), exporting manufactured goods, displaying perishables (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, seafood, vegetables, and fruits), selling pre-sealed goods, or exporting vacuum-packed products, granular goods, and packaged snacks may also be imported. (Id.) To import these exempted articles or biodegradable bags/utensils/takeaway boxes, the importer must obtain a certificate of conformity from the Seychelles Bureau of Standards, the organization in charge of validating such certificates. (Id. art. 4; Regulations on Utensils, art. 4.)
Violation of either set of regulations can result upon conviction in a fine of up to SCR20,000 (about US$1,465), imprisonment for up to a year, or both. (Regulations on Bags, art. 5; Regulations on Utensils, art. 5.)
Prepared by SooYun Cho, Law Library Intern, under the supervision of Hanibal Goitom, Foreign Law Specialist.