THERE is now a proposal for police to confiscate all glass bottles from anyone entering Carnival venues throughout the country on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
The glass bottle ban will take effect eight years after it was proposed. In 2012, Port of Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing proposed to ban all glass bottles for Carnival. It did not happen that year ,as many argued there was no law under which it could be enforced.
Eight years later there is still no law, but there has been an agreement between the authorities and the TT Beverages Alcohol Alliance (TTBAA).
Newsday spoke with chairman of the TTBAA Dr Patrick Antoine on the impact on the alliance of banning glass bottles. The TTBAA includes Angostura, Alstons Marketing Company (Amco), Brydens, Heineken, Pernod Ricard, Carib Brewery, Diageo and Trinidad Import and Export Company (Tiecol).
Antoine said, “We agreed to provide cups to focus areas where necessary. We would have like to get more time, maybe six months or so, because we needed time to change packaging and those things.”
Antoine, who was out of the country when called, said his researcher Jamel Hunte could be contacted for clarification on some of the points of the agreement.
Hunte said the first meeting took place on December 13. Coming out of the discussions, there was no talk of punitive measures for those caught with glass bottles; the decision was that police should just seize and dispose of them.
Antoine said the decision is that the alliance members should supply the vendors with the alcohol in glass bottles and the vendors then pour the alcohol into cups. Last year the government banned the import of Styrofoam products but their use is still allowed, as the ban catered for businesses which had stocked them and not sold all.
Antoine said his membership stockpiles their products, but the interval between December and Carnival was not long enough for them to sell their stocks in glass bottles.
He added that there are many intricacies involved that require more time than was given to facilitate a distribution of an alternative to glass bottles for many members. He was, however, grateful for the “genuine, active consultation.”
Since Lee Sing's proposal, each Carnival thereafter, authorities claimed they were having discussions with the relevant stakeholders about the ban.
In March last year, National Security Minister Stuart Young promised to speak with stakeholders after Lent on the ban, which would mostly affect beer bottles. He said the move would require legislation via the Carnival regulations and would be looked at this year. He said people breaching the law will be subject to a fine.
Young said then: “From a security point of view, this is a debate that we had prior to Carnival. Unfortunately the decision wasn't taken prior to this Carnival.
"But I am putting the population on alert that I intend to ban glass bottles next year. There were some persons who began throwing bottles and using these glass bottles. So for Carnivals 2020 prepare yourself for the banning of glass bottles."
On January 3, Young met with stakeholders and in a media release his ministry said the meeting focused on a flexible enforcement approach as well as implementation considerations. It added that those at the meeting supported the ban, which would create a safer and cleaner environment.
The intended ban on glass bottles is expected to take effect from 4 am on Carnival Monday, February 24, to midnight on Carnival Tuesday. A public education drive called “Clean Scene, Safe Scene,” which was to have been launched days after the meeting, is yet to begin. Young is expected to tell the public about this and other plans relating to the ban at a media conference on Friday.
Contacted on the ban finally being implemented, Lee Sing said it was a good thing. He added that it mattered not where the idea came from and he was just grateful that the safety of the people was being considered after all these years.
He added, “The cost effect of the ban is not just the bottles, but a look at the health cost for those who had to seek medical attention for injuries sustained by glass bottles.
"This year when I am playing mas I may well do so in my sandals, because there will be no fear of glass bottles cutting my feet.”