JMEA implores gov't to ensure level playing field in implementing environmental policies

JMEA implores gov't to ensure level playing field in implementing environmental policies

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) says while it fully supports and is committed to playing its part in the efforts to put measures in place to protect and preserve the environment, measures employed must be administered in a practical and balanced manner to achieve the desired outcome while ensuring the sustainability of the local productive sector.

In a press release today, the association pointed to the implementation of Phase 2 of the plastic ban, prohibiting the local manufacturing, distribution and use of polystyrene foam (Styrofoam), saying that was supposed to be a win for Jamaica's environment has been anything but.

It said that to date, the local polystyrene foam factory was shut down with over 140 workers made redundant. It added that during this period Jamaica has seen a significant increase in the importation of non-biodegradable plastic containers as alternatives to the Styrofoam.

The association noted that imports of plastic boxes and similar products for the conveyance or packaging of goods, increased from US$5.12 million in 2019 to US$12.4 million in 2020. Quantities imported grew from 1063 tons in 2019 to approximately 4,200 tons in 2020, the JMEA added.

“In essence, local Styrofoam production has simply been replaced with foreign plastic alternatives, supporting external economies while the desired environmental impact of the ban has not been achieved. Moreover, promises made to compensate businesses for materials destroyed now appears to be 'utterances' rather than commitments; this is a matter we will pursue in the courts,” the association said.

“As we enter into Phase 3 of the plastic ban, we are reaching out to the various stakeholders to tackle this as partners. A win for the environment is a win for Jamaica and it is a win for all of us. Legislating local producers to meet standards that will not be enforced on imported products is not going to help the economy nor the environment,” the association argued.

The JMEA further appealed to thegovernment to engage the association and the wider business community as partners as they go about formulating and implementing policies.

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