Parliament tables bill to ban styrofoam and plastics

The Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s has taken another major stride forward in instituting a ban on the importation of Styrofoam products on the island.

Minister in the Ministry of Climate Resilience, the Environment with responsibility for Forestry and Fisheries, Alvin DaBreo introduced the Non-Biodegradable Waste Control Bill, 2018 to the Lower House at a sitting last week Wednesday at Parliament House at Mt. Wheldale, St. George.

DaBreo, the Member of Parliament for St. John, told fellow legislators that the bill covers three levels of prohibition in the implementation of the ban on Styrofoam use on the island.
He said it entails prohibition of the importation and manufacture of Styrofoam products, sale and offer for sale of Styrofoam products and the prohibition for sale and offer for sale of food in or with these products.

This Bill which, has been in the making for quite some time by government, seeks to regulate the use of non-biodegradable products with a view to reducing the negative environmental impacts of inevitable disposal of the products and improving the health of Grenadians.

According to DaBreo the bill seeks “to regulate the use of non-biodegradable products for one main reason or two main reasons – to reduce the negative impacts on the environment and to improve the health of our people”.

“Mr. Speaker, Grenada is a small island developing state in the Caribbean region and is joining the call to beat Styrofoam and plastic pollution. At the ministry, we take notice of the call from various groups of concerned citizens as they point out the harmful effects of these items on our environment…”, he said.

“…Our population is becoming more health conscious and the call to ban…Styrofoam containers and plastics including straws is becoming louder and louder. These products are the most commonly used type containers for food beverages but the truth is they are non-biodegradable, they also contain substance that are harmful to human health when ingested”, he added.
Dabreo also charged that plastics and styrofoam are not good for the image of Grenada.

He said: “The quantity of Styrofoam that is being used is enormous and the island has no recycling facilities. In addition, the plastics are harmful to the marine environment. Grenada is a peaceful tourism destination, branded under the theme, Pure. Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean – to have plastic bottles in drainage and other places in and around the country is quite unsightly and goes against the brand of our destination.

“We will continue to dialogue with the importers and food vendors about the timeline for implementation of the new policy. We must tackle all types of pollution in order to ensure that future generations enjoy our island paradise. So, we count on the goodwill of all to make this happen,” he remarked.

DaBreo also warned that the country must see the fight against Styrofoam use as one in the climate change issue especially as it relates to landfills.

“We have a serious problem on our hands at the landfill at Perseverance and the landfill in Carriacou. These landfills right now, Mr Speaker, they are bursting, they are over flowing with plastics. This is not sustainable and I can relate to all the drivers who pass by at Perseverance and the smell that you get and the unhealthy situation that’s there now and you can see Mr. Speaker, the other products have degraded to dust but you can still see the black and white plastics in Perseverance. So, we know that it’s not going anywhere soon,” he said.

Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen, weighed in on how beneficial this move towards posing a ban on Styrofoam is for the country.

“This is indeed a very proud moment for me but more importantly it is a proud moment for our tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Many discussions, many concerns have been raised around this issue of non-biodegradable substance like plastics, like what we call Styrofoam.

“We promote ourselves as Pure Grenada, Isle of Spice and we market heavily on the Pure Grenada. As a matter of fact, I am beginning to think of our country as Pure Grenada and not Grenada because when we speak about Grenada to visitors or we speak to people abroad, we also generally in the hotel industry, in the tourism industry, we say Pure Grenada and the thing is people like this concept.

The female government minister pointed to the many years that it takes some of the products to degrade like the monofilament fishing line (600 years), aluminum cans for beers (80 to 200 years), and plastics and plastic bags (an average of 20 years).

“So, the amount of years is of serious importance to us…it’s very important what we are doing here to make that difference for the future of our country, for the security and the safety of our children and for our children’s children”, Dr. Modeste-Curwen.

A number of Caribbean Countries like Antigua and Barbuda and Guyana have already instituted bans on Styrofoam products.

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