The Grenada Government has announced that effective September 1, 2018, there will be no importation of Styrofoam in the country while the ban on the importaton of single use plastic bags takes effect on February 1, 2019.
Minister of Climate Resilience, Senator Simon Stiell told reporters at Tuesday’s weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministerial Complex that government has signed the orders which bring the ban into effect.
This is the first step by Grenada to rid itself of non-biodegradable foam after government in July passed in both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, legislation to bring an end to all kinds of Styrofoam products.
According to Sen. Stiell the first set of Styrofoam products to be banned from coming into the country will take effect from September 1st.
“We just signed the orders which bring into force the first two items to be banned, the first is Styrofoam and the second is single use handled shopping bag. For the importation of Styrofoam, the band comes into effect on the 1st of September,” he said.
He announced that the ban on single use plastic bags will take effect on February 1st 2019, and that after April 1, 2019, no food items would be sold in the country using Styrofoam containers.
He said that this should give the country “time to transition to that, with the final ban ….. (the) carrier bag, being able to be sold in this country is the first of February 2020.”
According to Sen. Stiell, the phasing out period for single use plastic bags should take place over a 12-month period.
In relation to other plastics use, the government minister stated that further discussions are needed with stakeholders before the order can be signed by government.
“The order for other single use plastics, whether its cutlery, cups, plates, containers etc, is due to come in force on the 1st of February 2019 but it will not be signed until further confirmation has taken place, with importers, with stakeholders”, Sen. Stiell said.
“Concerns have been raised over the timing, so further discussions are required before that order is signed but again we uphold our commitment to the banning of single use plastics but working with importers, with stakeholders to ensure that the implementation of that and the economic impact of that is as seamless as possible,” he added.
Sen. Stiell told reporters that he is aware that some alternatives to the banned products are already being used by stakeholders.
He said: “We’ve been working very closely with importers, so those importers that bring in Styrofoam and alternatives, we’ve been working very closely with them in terms of setting up the time scales for the transition from Styrofoam to those alternatives, giving them time to source those alternatives to start bringing those alternatives to (the) market.
“Over the period starting from September the importation ban will prohibit more Styrofoam being imported into the country. So, we had discussed with those importers what products they had coming into the country, what was on order, what they have in terms of inventory, what they believe the consumption rate would be in terms of the sale of the existing Styrofoam products so that they can be phased out and then the introduction of alternatives.
“…What we have found is many restaurants, many stores have already transitioned to those alternatives. The timelines that we were talking about, importers were comfortable with it, government was comfortable with it, so we’re able to set an aggressive agenda but also being sensitive to other stakeholders in terms of managing the economic impact of that transition.
Sen. Stiell noted that although Styrofoam is considered to be the cheapest product of its kind on the market, the cost of the alternative should not be an issue, as there are many environmental and health effects that come with Styrofoam.
“It’s a known fact that Styrofoam is the cheapest product available and not just here in Grenada but internationally and that is part of the problem – because it’s so cheap, the use of it globally has been so extensive. What haven’t been factored in are the environmental cost of that product and the health cost”, he said.
“There is health risks associated with the use of Styrofoam for food handling purposes. So, when we look at the cost, we have to (not) look at just beyond the physical cost of the alternative. We also have to look at the environmental cost of Styrofoam, health cost associated with it – so we need to look at that holistically,” he added.