JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Government Senator, Matthew Samuda, says the impending ban on plastics is part of efforts by the Government to deal with waste management in a comprehensive way.
  •  “The Government is taking a firm look at the country’s total waste management problem,” he told JIS News.
  • “Whereas we are looking at the logistic needs to be able to collect all of our waste, we are also looking at what we allow to be considered waste,” he said.

Government Senator, Matthew Samuda, says the impending ban on plastics is part of efforts by the Government to deal with waste management in a comprehensive way.

 “The Government is taking a firm look at the country’s total waste management problem,” he told JIS News.

“Whereas we are looking at the logistic needs to be able to collect all of our waste, we are also looking at what we allow to be considered waste,” he said.

Starting January 1, 2019 the Government will be imposing a ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of specific categories of plastic packaging materials.

These include single-use plastic carrier/shopping bags; expanded polystyrene, commonly referred to as styrofoam; and plastic drinking straws.

These items are improperly disposed of and are causing increasingly harmful effects to human as well as animal life.

Senator Samuda said that the plastic bottle refund scheme, which should come into effect by the first quarter of 2019, will provide an incentive for members of the public to turn in plastic containers.

 “(This is) much like the deposit scheme on glass bottles most of us grew up seeing. Over five years, we expect this to target 85 per cent of the bottles that are produced to be brought in by consumers because they will have a monetary value attached,” he pointed out.

As it relates to the ban on the local manufacturing and distribution of polystyrene, this will take effect in 2020 in order to give manufacturers additional time to restructure their operations.

The industry is encouraged to manufacture/distribute paper-based and other environmentally friendly alternatives of the product for the domestic market.

 “There was a time when we used to carry lunches, now, we’ve got into the habit of buying lunches in expanded polystyrene boxes, and when we’re done, we simply toss the boxes away,” Senator Samuda lamented, noting that studies have shown that the product is carcinogenic and, therefore, threatens the health of persons.

Meanwhile, Senator Samuda said that the Government has to ensure that there are enough alternatives available once single-use plastics and polystyrene are removed. These include glass, and paper, bamboo and bagasse-based products.

Senator Samuda told JIS News that providing alternatives should not be at a significant cost to distributors once the market is realigned.

“Economies of scale matter and once you’ve created a market where single-use plastic is not an option then those economies of scale will ‘trip in’ and you will see a realignment of prices. So, although they may look more expensive now, they won’t be by the time there is a realignment of the market,” he argued.