Samuda urges Cabinet to be firm on styrofoam ban

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 10, 2019

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Government Senator Matthew Samuda is urging the Cabinet to dismiss appeals for a delay in the planned January 1, 2020 ban on polystyrene foam, commonly referred to as styrofoam.

Last week the Jamaica Observer confirmed reports that a group of local business operators has written to the Government asking for an extension of the timeline for the manufacture and distribution of polystyrene foam, for use as finished goods in the food and beverage industry in Jamaica.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz is to meet with representatives of the Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters Association, ministry officials and representatives of several agencies to discuss the request for a delay this week, before the matter is taken to Cabinet for a decision.

But Samuda, who in 2016 through a Private Members Motion in the Senate, started the ball rolling for the ban on single-use plastic, styrofoam and other such products, says he is firmly opposed to “any request or consideration at this juncture for a delay in the implementation of the second phase of the expanded polystyrene ban”.

According to Samuda, “Anything but implementing the policy in line with the dates previously determined would be a retrograde step. This Government has displayed clearly, an unparalleled commitment to environmental protection and shouldn't backslide”.

He argued that the major players in the Styrofoam market have awesome distribution capacity and it is incumbent on them to use this capacity for the good of the nation in ensuring maximum compliance is achieved in the fastest possible time for the good of the nation.

“This process is over three years old and the environmental challenges faced by the nation are three years more mature and harder to correct.

“Whereas I will not redebate the reasons for the ban, I believe it important to point to two points made in the United Nations Environment Programme report on single- use plastics of 2018. These are that expanded polystyrene foam, commonly referred to as styrofoam contains carcinogens and that the biodegradability expectation is now listed as 1000 years,” added Samuda.

The government senator noted that national discussion on the ban of styrofoam started on Earth Day, April 22, 2016 when he announced the intention to pursue this policy path in the Senate.

Samuda pointed out that market consultations started before his motion was passed in September 2016 with bipartisan support.

“A working group chaired by Dr Paris Lyew Ayee commenced work in February 2017. The report from the working group was submitted to Minister Vaz who took it to the Cabinet for consideration in September 2017. At that time Prime Minister Andrew Holness instructed that further consultations should be carried out.

“This process came to a close in September 2018 with the policy announcement and the first phase of the expanded polystyrene foam coming into effect on January 2019 with imports being curtailed,” said Samuda as he outlined the sequence of events leading to the ban.


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