The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has joined the call for a ban on the importation of polystyrene/styrofoam products that was first made by the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Authority (GHTA) and the Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority (GSWMA) in the form of a petition in September 2015.
“In keeping with the development of our policy position and our vision for a greener Grenada, a more eco-friendly environment, protection and (the) preservation of the health of our people, the National Democratic Congress at this time express its support for the call by the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association for a ban on the importation of Styrofoam products”, declared NDC Chairman, Vincent Roberts at the partys weekly press conference.
Speaking to reporters at the NDC headquarters in St. George’s, Roberts pointed out that, “Styrofoam is known to have severe negative environmental consequences, is bad for our health and can easily be substituted by affordably competitively prized products, which are healthier and better for our environment”.
He said that a number of regional countries including Dominica, Guyana, Haiti, and Antigua have already instituted bans on Styrofoam and called on the Government of Grenada to take immediate action to institute a similar ban locally.
According to Roberts, Congress intends to address the need for the ban when it outlines its major policies for the next few years on September 22 at the Grenada Trade Centre at Grand Anse.
GHTA President, Jerry Rappaport told THE NEW TODAY newspaper last week it has been over a year since discussions were held with government ministers who agreed to bring the issue of the ban for consideration at the Cabinet level.
“We take this very seriously. This is very important to us as members of the tourism industry. We will have many challenges because of Climate Change and if we are going to survive we must make a decision that is not popular”, he said.
He added that “at the end of the day it means that everyone of us at some point must make sacrifices in order to deal with the issues related to Climate Change”.
Rappaport reiterated GHTA’s “strong belief that Styrofoam and ultimately plastic bags, should be relooked in terms of whether or not our nation can sustain the use of them”.
It is the association’s position that banning the use of polystyrene would, in addition to improving the health of the nation and ensuring continued riches from the sea, support Grenada’s commitments to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Trade Minister Oliver Joseph told this newspaper in a telephone interview last week Thursday that government has been taking action in this regard.
However, he said, “Government cannot just implement a ban on a product without scientific proof that it is dangerous to human and animal health”.
This position, he stated was in keeping with the Free Trade Agreement and other treaties that the country has signed onto under an arrangement involving member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Minister Joseph said “the Ministry of Health is currently conducting research and reviewing the decision taken by other CARICOM countries in this regard before taking a decision’.
While polystyrene has become an accepted everyday product it has several negative environmental consequences.
Polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic that is light in weight and offers good insulation properties that keep products cold or hot, and safe during the shipping process without adding weight.
Despite these conveniences there are very serious health and environmental concerns as polystyrene is not biodegradable and has not been shown to ever decompose into substances that are harmless to nature.
Additionally, because polystyrene is lightweight, it is easily blown away or carried in water courses to the sea where it poisons the marine life depended on for food and foreign exchange.
Polystyrene has also been linked to severe health effects such as chromosomal damage, cancer and pulmonary function among factory workers producing the product.
Polystyrene foam containers make ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes and the island’s dump site at Perseverance is running at near capacity with little room for non-biodegradable waste.
Today, most polystyrene is made with CFC-22, a greenhouse gas that is destructive to the ozone layer.
Polystyrene is commonly referred to as Styrofoam.
“Styrofoam” is a trademarked brand name of a type of polystyrene used for insulation and craft, not the polystyrene foam that is commonly
used for food containers.