Gov't starts education campaign on plastic, styrofoam ban

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

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THE Government will be undertaking an educational campaign surrounding the impending ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of specific categories of plastic packaging materials.

Government Senator Matthew Samuda, who made the disclosure during Friday's sitting of the Senate, said the campaign will, among other things, highlight alternative packaging materials.

“There is nothing that the Government has banned that does not already have existing alternatives in the marketplace; it would be improper of the Government to push one alternative versus another. I think, through the public education campaign, it will come out as to the varying alternatives that are there,” he said.

The ban, which starts January 1, 2019, relates to single-use plastic carrier/shopping bags; expanded polystyrene foam, commonly referred to as styrofoam; and plastic drinking straws.

It does not apply to bags used to maintain public health or food-safety standards, such as those utilised to package raw meats; flour; sugar; rice and baked goods, such as bread.

Meanwhile, Mr Samuda said that discussions are being held with local companies regarding funding to retool their operations in order to manufacture more environmentally safe products.

“It is really… five or six companies that are to be affected.” he informed, noting that the Opposition will be kept informed about the developments.

For his part, Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson called on Jamaicans to play their part in ensuring that the ban is successful.

“Regardless of what the Government does, its success will be measured by virtue of the citizen's buy-in to the programme and… [recognition of] the deleterious effect of plastics on the environment,” he said.

“When you go to the supermarket, complain to the supermarket that you do not want the plastic bags that they are giving you, likewise at your restaurants,” he urged.

Senator Sophia Frazer-Binns, in voicing support, said the Opposition stands ready to assist in the efforts to protect the environment.

“If there is anything the Opposition can do to assist the effort, then we stand ready to work alongside you to achieve those objectives,” she added.

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