If a ban were a cure

Monday, December 31, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Yet another noble endeavour will come to bear on January morning, banning single-use plastic bags, straws and imported foam products.

There is no shortage of desire to see our nation, and by extension our world, rid of the tumour that is pollution and its fearsome Frankenstein, climate change.

The ban will be exhibited in the gallery of ideas that were birthed in our nation's Parliament in an effort to get the nation on a path to social and economic development.

It is prudent that this action is taken and its vision championed among the people, but it is more prudent that support is extended beyond penalties.

Not foreign to exuberant social ideas that come out of Parliament is a lack of complete thought. An end in mind is all it takes to get a nice idea off the ground. A ban on public smoking, tablets in school, a mobile apps market, yellow public transport vehicles, swapping green bananas for Nutri-bullas, the coming restriction of sugar in drinks, and complete ban on styrofoam products are or have all been flawed, withdrawn or bound to fail. Infant ideas such as these are then devoured by a waste of time and money.

Pivotal to the success of a critical ban, such as the plastic ban, is the groundwork of exploration, research and development pioneered by our universities and local industry. So far-flung from policy is Jamaica's investment in scientific research that we are constantly in a loop of hits and misses. The nations that spurred similar actions have all been educated by their nation's brightest minds and talents and fuelled by generous investments in research. Now they are ready to fill the plastic and foam product vacuum in our market with reusable straws, fully degradable cassava plastics and innovative cups, plates and food boxes, resulting in an inflated importation bill.

A similar issue will yet arise with the restriction on sugars in local sugary drinks. How will dumped foreign beverages be policed? What will be used in lieu of sugar? Surely, it is easy to use artificial sweeteners, but swapping cancer for diabetes is just as savvy as swapping “black dog for monkey”.

“To our leaders, Great Defender, grant true wisdom from above,” so that they will be less enticed by global trends and more by sustainable process and thought.

A ban is noble, but if not sealed with competitively home-grown and sustainable gap fillers it will only cause leaks elsewhere in the dingy of our economy.

Dave Richards


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