Gov’t committee to review use of biodegradable imports

Sunday, February 05, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee, Director of the Mona GeoInformatics Institute, is to chair a multi-stakeholder committee to be formed by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to review the importation of non-biodegradable materials (including plastic bags and polystyrene foam) into Jamaica for packaging.
Government Senator Matthew Samuda made the announcement on Friday as he contributed to the 2016/17 State of the Nation Debate in the Senate.
Recalling his motion passed in the Senate in November, 2016, regarding the banning of the importation of two non-biodegradable materials -- single use plastic bags and polystyrene foam -- Senator Samuda said it was his pleasure to announce the commitment of the Ministry of Economic Growth & Job Creation to taking the necessary steps for the motion’s implementation.
“As the motion had called for, a multi-stakeholder committee is being set up to make the recommendations to the Government as to how this should be implemented. This committee will be chaired by Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee. Upon commencement of its work, it is expected to table its recommendations within a hundred days,” he told the Senate.
Senator Samuda added that it was also commendable that the largest local producer of Styrofoam has already commenced testing the bio-degradable form of this material for market introduction.
Last October, the Senate approved a private member’s motion proposing a ban on the use of Styrofoam containers and plastic bags locally.
The motion, mooted by Samuda, was unanimously supported following an extensive debate.
During the debate, Samuda noted that Styrofoam and plastics take an inordinately long period of time to biodegrade. He also said that the fact that both materials comprise approximately 50 per cent of the non-biodegradable waste generated locally, posed grave environmental and health concerns for Jamaica.
He contended that it would be far less costly to ban them rather than persist with their usage.                   
However, Chairman of the Wisynco Group, William Mahfood, raised concerns that the move to consider curtailing the production of non degradable styrofoam containers in Jamaica, could hurt more than 200 people currently employed to manufacture these products.
Balford Henry

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