Global Plastic Policy Reviews

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When referring to any of the results of our analysis and/or its concept and design, please cite us accordingly:
Global Plastics Policy Centre (2022) March A., Salam, S., Evans, T., Hilton, J., Fletcher, S. (editors). Global Plastics Policy Review. Revolution Plastics, University of Portsmouth.

Antigua and Barbuda External Trade (Shopping Plastic Bags Prohibition) Order, No.83

View the policy document
Contribution to reducing plastic pollution:
Effectiveness of meeting own objectives:
Strength of evidence: Strong Available Evidence
Reviewed under framework: Yes

This policy prohibits the importation, distribution, sale and use of shopping bags which targeted 5 types of plastics that accounted for 90% of the plastics released into the environment. Full monitoring data is yet to be provided (or made publicly available); however, within the first year, the ban contributed to a 15.1% decrease in the amount of plastic discarded in landfills in Antigua and Barbuda and has overall been regarded as relatively successful.

Strong leadership and careful, effective planning delivered a ban that achieved early stakeholder buy-in, public awareness through social and televised campaigning, phased approaches with supermarkets and stores, tax incentives for the importation of reusable bags, and significantly, financial support from China which allowed for capacity building and educational awareness.

For this bag ban, as well as the single use plastic product (SUPP) ban (Antigua and Barbuda Litter Control and Prevention Act 2019 No. 3), Antigua and Barbuda had a number of key elements in place that contributed to their effectiveness.

Antigua and Barbuda had a clear implementation plan for the bans, and consistent communication about what was banned and when, leading to successful implementation and compliance. Political drive and long term commitment were strong enabling factors for these policies. A phased approach and a defined timeline including a phase of adjustment for industry and the public was used, contributing to the success of these policies.  Early and regular stakeholder engagement was critical to the success and effectiveness where stakeholders unanimously voted against importing plastics. Such early engagement meant there was widespread support for the ban before it came into effect. Furthermore, Antigua and Barbuda adopted an eight step process which resulted in the ban being integrated into existing legislation. Specific stakeholders were targeted, including supermarkets to resolve outstanding issues. 

The provision of alternatives for consumers has been shown to support effective implementation and if championed by the leading figures in government, gives further credibility and reassurance to consumers. Antigua and Barbuda introduced tax incentives for the importation of reusable (non-plastic) bags to aid enforcement of the ban. The ban was well received by the big supermarket chains and was followed by adoption by smaller stores. Government approved alternatives were determined through research and consultation with importers and distributors,  with the government identifying and promoting Bagasse (sugarcane pulp) as the key priority for alternatives.

The government launched an awareness campaign with the tagline “Make a difference once bag at a time”. The tagline was stamped onto the free reusable bags that were given away to members of the public and through public service announcements by the Minister of Health and Environment who used national media to spread the message. More than 70% of respondents in a subsequent survey agreed their awareness was increased through these plastic bag ban campaigns. The bag ban came with a fine of  $1,110 USD or up to 6 months imprisonment. However, due to the positive support of the ban through awareness raising and stakeholder engagement, stringent enforcement was not required.

From this, a number of lessons can be learned when considering implementing a national or local ban:

  • Public support and awareness are critical to ensuring compliance. Alongside the introduction of any ban, sufficient awareness raising campaigns should accompany to clearly explain why the ban is needed, what it means for citizens and businesses, and what alternatives they might seek out.
  • Clear messaging about roles, responsibilities and implications of new bans should be made.
  • Early and regular stakeholder engagement generates widespread support, increases effectiveness and should be undertaken at all stages of policy development.
  • Adopting a phased approach, as well as a clearly defined course of action is necessary. In the cases of bans, sufficient moratorium (time to adapt) is needed.
  • Incentives, as well as fines and enforcement can contribute significantly to ensuring compliance.
  • Unless sustainable alternatives are accessible and affordable, it is unlikely that public compliance will be high enough to sustain the success of the policy.

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Through an analytical framework, we've reviewed over 100 plastic policies. These reviews determine the effectiveness of policies in reducing plastic pollution and we offer recommendations in light of this evidence, to enhance future policy making. You can find out more about our methods on our methods page.

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