Plans to widen plastic ban underway
Jamaica, along with seven other Caribbean countries, implemented measures in 2019 to reduce plastic pollution by banning single-use plastic bags, straws and styrofoam. UNEP says this was a bold move.

THE Government will be taking steps in the 2023/2024 financial year to widen its ban on single-use plastic as it seeks to further protect the country's natural environment from degradation and destruction.

This was stated by minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Senator Matthew Samuda, in a speech delivered by the ministry's Chief Technical Director Gillian Guthrie, at the 10th regional session of the Youth Environment Advocacy Programme (YEAP), on 'Marine Pollution: The Role of Plastics'.

The event was held at the York Castle High School in Brown's Town, St Ann, on March 17.

Minister Samuda pointed out that microbeads and plastic lunch boxes will be targeted under impending changes to the ban on single-use plastic.

"The principal intent of the ban is to prevent non-recyclable, non-biodegradable carcinogenic waste from entering our garbage... The Government will start in the new financial year… to look at microbeads, which are microplastics in personal-care products and different types of lunch boxes which are made of plastic," Samuda noted.

The Government has already imposed a ban on the importation, manufacture and distribution of single-use plastic bags, straws and polystyrene, which took effect on January 1, 2019, a move Samuda said has been bearing fruit.

He further noted that the ministry will seek to engage with the population "on this important national issue" as the push continues to encourage more Jamaicans to abide by the principles of environment preservation and protection.

The minister, meanwhile, urged the scores of secondary students from St Ann in attendance at the YEAP session to become advocates of the environment.

The forum facilitated discussions on areas such as marine pollution, plastic recycling and issues related to the improper disposal of plastic waste.

Presentations were also made by several agencies, including the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), and the Discovery Bay Marine Lab, Grace Kennedy Foundation and Recycling Partners of Jamaica.

Since the establishment of YEAP, some 1,400 students across the island have been sensitised about the importance of a healthy environment to the sustainable development of the country.

YEAP is managed by the Environmental Risk Management branch of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

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