AS-EPA urges public to report stores still using banned plastic bags
The American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency is urging members of the public to report businesses who are still using the plastic shopping bags. That is the plea from AS-EPA’s counsel Nathan Mease who told Samoa News the importance of enforcing the ban on plastic shopping bags to protect American Samoa’s land and ocean environments.
Mease said the major issue AS-EPA is facing is that the stores are using plastic bags on weekends and after hours, when businesses know that EPA officers are off of work.
He said to combat this issue, AS-EPA has begun evening and weekend patrols.
Mease reminds the public that plastic bags can take hundreds of years to degrade and they can cause major damage to our ecosystem by harming marine birds, mammals, and fish. They also take up space in the landfill and are an eye sore as they litter the community.
Five businesses have been cited under the plastic bag ban since the law took effect early last year.
The latest stores caught using the plastic bags were Kristopher Store in Tafuna and KM Ocean Mart in Nu’uuli. The business owners both appeared in court early this month and pled guilty to violating the Plastic Shopping Bag Ban. Both were issued $50 fines.
Mease said the citations were the result of a combination of re-inspection from Stop Orders and complaints to AS-EPA from the public. He added that AS-EPA officers have followed up on a majority of the Stop Orders that were issued and are finding compliance by nearly all of the stores re-inspected.
AS-EPA encourages the public to inform us of any store they see distributing plastic bags and AS-EPA wants the public to know that they can recycle their old plastic bags by using them over and over again when going to the store” said Mease.
Please call AS-EPA at 633-2304 for more information or to report a store distributing plastic bags.