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17th September 2019, 19:46

New legislation bans most single use plastic bags and makes washing down dog urine a legal obligation

Just before the dissolution of parliament, two pieces of environmental legislation were gazetted. The first is a ban on the importation of unused plastic bags to the Rock - with some exemptions. The second is a law that requires dog owners to wash down their pets' urine in any street or public place.

Plastic bags ban

An amendment to the 1986 imports and exports act will ban unused plastic bags made wholly or partly from plastic that are of a thickness of less than 100 microns - which is most single use plastic bags found in retailers.

To put that into perspective, the thinner plastic bags used by vegetable sellers and many retailers have a thickness of less than 50 microns and the thicker reusable bags often found in larger supermarket, still fall short of the criteria, usually containing a thickness of less than 70 microns.

There will be some exceptions to the ban:

- Bags without handles used for fish, meat and poultry 

- Zipper storage bags used for medicines

- Seal-able plastic bags used to transport medicinal products and appliances

- Gusseted liners 

- Clothing covers

- Bags on board ships for crew use or sale on board

- Bags on ships that wont land in Gibraltar

- Those imported for transit or shipment

- Bin liners

- Dog waste bags

- Baby napkin bags

To aid the transition in banning these bags, those ordered before today, and which will arrive before the end of this year, can still be used - however proof of purchase is required.

Washing down dog urine

In an amendment to the Animals Rules 2014, dog owners that don't wash down their dogs urine in any street or public place will be committing an offence - and will be subject to a fine of £250.

Owners will have to wash away their dogs' urine with at least 250ml of water, or another appropriate liquid. If the dog is being taken care of by another person, or if the person doesn't have anything to wash it down with, the owner will still be committing an offence.

If caught not complying with the new law, owners will be issued a fine of £250 and can be taken to court if they don't pay this. If caught breaking the law a second time, the owner can be fined at a higher level or sentenced to three months in prison, or both. 

The law comes into force at the start of next year.