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Plastic bag ban enforcement enters phase two

fili@samoanews.com

The American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency is pleased with the number of establishments who are complying with the territory's law banning plastic bags.

"The ASEPA is very pleased with the number of stores and restaurants that have complied," director Fanuatele Dr. To'afa Vaiaga'e said in a statement.

As of Dec. 5, enforcement officers with ASEPA issued only three citations to business establishments that were found in violation of the PSBB Law, said Fanuatele.

Phase one of the Plastic Shopping Bag Ban (PSBB) Task-force's enforcement program, sent out teams inspecting stores, roadside markets, sewing shops, restaurants, etc, across the Territory. Of the 300 businesses inspected, at that time, some 112 stop orders were issued to businesses not in compliance with the new law.

Phase Two of the Plastic Shopping Bag Ban (PSBB) enforcement drive is currently underway with ASEPA Enforcement Officers conducting follow-up site visits to the businesses that were served with a Stop Order during Phase One.

Some store owners told Samoa News that many of their customers are now aware of this law and no longer give store clerks a hard time when given cardboard boxes to pack their groceries into.

Some stores, are now using biodegradable plastic bags that are allowed under the law, said one business owner, who also pointed out that there are still a few customers that continue to give clerks a hard time when their groceries are packed in a cardboard box.

An ASEPA attorney had told Samoa News that fines for violating the PSBB law range from $50 to $1000 and fines are only paid after the stores have been found guilty by the judge or the store admits guilt in court.

Since the PSBB law went into effect, at the beginning of this year, a majority of local businesses now use paper bags, cardboard boxes or ask their customers to bring their own cloth bags. Other customers re-use their plastic bags, which ASEPA encourages.



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