Pursuant to the provisions of Act 247-2015, commercial establishments1 in Puerto Rico must discontinue the use of disposable plastic bags and allow their clients to bring their own reusable bags as well as any type of bag to carry the goods purchased at the establishments. At the commercial establishment’s discretion, they may offer paper bags to their consumers for a fixed fee (i.e., to recover the cost).2 Act 247-2015, among other things, also requires commercial establishments to display certain signs/posters at specific places within their premises in connection with the disposable plastic bags ban. The enforcement of the ban is scheduled in two phases:
- From December 30, 2016 to June 2017, noncompliance with Act 247-2016 will result in the issuance of notice of violation by the Secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs (“DACO”, by its Spanish acronym) which will not carry the imposition of penalties or fines; and
- After June 2017, the Secretary of the DACO will impose the administrative penalty which will be in the amount of $100.00 dollars (for a 1st offense), $150.00 dollars (for a 2nd offense) or $200.00 dollars for every subsequent offense.3
Act 247-2016 allows municipality to issue ordinances to expand the provisions of Act 247-2016, such municipalities will have concurrent jurisdiction with DACO and may coordinate inspections of the commercial establishments located within their jurisdiction. In these cases, the fine will be reported the corresponding Municipal Excise Tax Office (Patente Municipal), Municipal Finance Office and the Municipal Revenues Collection Center (“CRIM”, for its Spanish acronym) of any penalties or fines imposed to a commercial establishment. If the penalty is not paid in its entirety, the commercial establishment will not be able to renew its Patente Municipal until the penalty is paid.
1Exclusions: food establishments that receive more than 90% of its revenues from the sale of food prepared in the same establishment where it is consumed), the bags of products or packaging, or security tamper evident bags (“STEB”) provided in the Duty Free zones in airports and marine ports in Puerto Rico.
2Those establishments already using paper bags as their ordinary packaging for goods are not required to charge a fee. Pursuant to Act 70-1992, as amended, commercial establishments must to implement a recycling plan for disposable plastic bags and noncompliance carries fines of $5000.00 per violation.
3The penalty must be paid within thirty (30) days after the expiration of thirty (30) day term available to the affected party to request the review of the penalty. If it is not timely paid, a monthly surcharge of 10% of the total penalty amount will be imposed.