Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association has been lobbying Government to place a ban on the importation and use of Styrofoam products in Grenada.
Earlier this year Minister (Nicholas) Steele indicated, at a press conference, that Government would be imposing a ban on the product.
“I intend to bring to Parliament a Styrofoam Bill which will ban the importation of Styrofoam as a first start, from that we will be moving to plastic.”
In her statement made on World Tourism Day this past September, Minister (Clarice) Modeste also mentioned that a ban would be put in place.
“The Government of Grenada has also pledged to table legislation banning the importation of Styrofoam and plastic as part of a proper waste management strategy. The effects of Styrofoam are well known as it is non-biodegradable and its link to cancer has been explored. This ban on Styrofoam and plastic will be a priority going forward.”
While the GHTA welcomed both statements, it is concerned that to date, there is no sign of implementation of a ban.
What is Styrofoam?
Polystyrene is used to make drinking cups and food containers – the hard-plastic ones and also the soft foamy ones along with a wide range of other packaging materials. The most popular polystyrene foam is called Styrofoam.
The citizens of Grenada are mostly unaware of the harmful effects of polystyrene (Styrofoam) to both our health and environment. It takes at least 500 years to decompose.
When Styrofoam is sent to the landfill, it is quickly covered and this process deprives it of water and oxygen, which would normally help it to break down.
Much of the disposable Styrofoam packaging that we eat from today will therefore still be around in 500 years.
By volume, the amount of space used up in landfills by all that we eat from today will therefore still be around in 500 years.
By volume, the amount of space used up in landfills by all plastics is around 30 percent, possibly more. What happens when we add hot food or drinks to Polystyrene?
Styrofoam food containers leach the toxin Styrene when they come into contact with warm food or drink, alcohol, oils and acidic foods causing human contamination and pose a health risk. Of particular danger is the use of micro waves to defrost or heat foods packaged in these containers.
If containers you use for the storage of food are not labelled “Microwave-safe”, then they are probably not.
Ban on Styrofoam
Over 100 US and Canadian, as well as some European and Asian cities have banned polystyrene food packaging as a result of the negative impacts to humans and the environment. More importantly in our region, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Guyana, Haiti and Dominica have all passed legislation banning Styrofoam with several other Caricom members expected to follow suit in the near future.
Do not burn polystyrene with your garden rubbish
Burning polystyrene on bonfires releases Carbon Monoxide and styrene monomers into the environment, which can be extremely hazardous to our health.
The United Nations Environment Program estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.
Polystyrene foam presents unique management issues because of its lightweight nature and float-ability; it is easily blown from disposal sites even when disposed of properly. Due to its buoyancy and the fact that it is light in weight, this material travels easily, eventually reaching the ocean, causing pollution of our waters, harming marine life and affecting our quality of life.
Because styrene can adversely affect humans in a number of ways, it raises serious public health and safety questions regarding its build-up in human tissue. Styrene primarily exhibits its toxicity to humans as a neurotoxin by attacking the central and peripheral nervous systems which can lead to functional impairment of the nervous system.
What can you do?
Ask your Member of Parliament and The Minister of Environment to ban Styrofoam in food packaging. There are many alternatives that will have less impact on the environment.
The Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association urges the government of Grenada to be among the leaders in our region and enact and implement the long overdue ban on Styrofoam.