President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. has signed into law a bill that bans stores or other retail establishments from distributing plastic bags at the point of sale to customers. Remengesau signed the bill Tuesday during the leadership meeting at the Palau Civic Hall.
It is believed that banning plastic bags is an important first step towards total freedom from plastic consumption and a vital measure to protect Palau’s environment, in line with the “Pristine Paradise. Palau” brand.
Plastic bags are the ones provided by a retail establishment to a customer for the purpose of transporting groceries or other retail goods and specifically designed for multiple-reuse, but don’t include biodegradable or compostable plastic bags.
The law applies to commercial businesses such as a shop, food market, convenience mart, restaurants, stores including department store, liquor store, hardware store, sporting goods store; or any other store operating within Palau that offers retail or food items for sale to customers.
Plastic bags are to be eliminated after two years following the effective date of the new law.
After two years, retail establishments may not provide plastic bags that are not biodegradable or compostable to their customers. However, a year after the effective date, no individual or businesses may import plastic bags for distribution to customers.
President Remengesau in his signing statement said that banning retail distribution of plastic shopping bags alone will not solve the problem.
“But hopefully, this Act will get us all thinking about ways to reduce our dependence on plastic – and especially on disposable plastic – products,” Remengesau said.
It is also hopeful tha banning plastic bags will encourage residents and nonresidents to adopt sustainable practices and avoid the use of plastics in order to preserve the environment.
Palau is the latest of the growing list of Pacific island countries and territories to step up the battle against plastic bags. The CNMI and Vanuatu passed laws this summer banning the use of plastic bags. American Samoa, the Marshall Islands and the Micronesian state of Yap have already brought in bans and Fiji has launched a levy on plastic bags use.