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StyRofoam ban goes into full effect in 2018 – GONSALVES

StyRofoam ban goes into full effect  in 2018 – GONSALVES

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As of Wednesday, January 31, 2018, it will be illegal for persons to serve food in styrofoam containers.

Persons caught doing so can be fined up to EC$5,000, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both.

The ban on styrofoam food packages came into effect last Monday, May 1, but according to Minister of Economic Planning, Sustainable Development, Industry, Information and Labour Camillo Gonsalves, although the ban is in effect, it is in its first phase and would not be fully applied until 2018.

Speaking during a press conference last Friday, April 28, at Cabinet Room, Gonsalves explained that persons who placed orders for styrofoam food

packages before May 1 are still allowed to bring them into the country, if they can prove to customs that they ordered them before the ban came into play last Monday.

He, however, stressed that orders after May 1 would not be accepted and all styrofoam food packaging has to be out of play by the deadline date, January 31, 2018.

The legislation banning polystyrene or styrofoam is called the Environmental Health Expanded Polystyrene Ban Regulation of 2017.

“The long and short of it is that under Section 4, a person shall not import, manufacture or sell styrofoam food service products, a person shall not use, or serve, or sell food in styrofoam food service products. Don’t import it, don’t sell it, don’t serve food in it,” said Gonsalves on Friday.

He noted that during consultations, the Government looked at the time it would take businesses to change their ordering relationships and get rid of their current stock of styrofoam.

“…it will still be legally used and served for Carnival and it will still be legally used and served for Christmas, but at the end of January 2018, it will not be legal to sell any food product in a styrofoam container,” stressed Gonsalves.

He noted, however, that the ban is only on styrofoam food packaging, including the trays that are used to package meat, fruit products and eggs in the supermarkets. The ban does not apply to styrofoam used to package electronic products and other form of polystyrene packaging.

Gonsalves commended the Government for banning the product, stating that the environmental impact of styrofoam (which is not biodegradable and difficult to recycle) is very bad and ubiquitous in SVG.

“Those difficulties are well known… Minister (Julian) Francis has spoken about the difficulty of cleaning up Kingstown, because the drains are clogged with it (styrofoam) and it would not biodegrade,” said Gonsalves, who added that the United States Department of Health and Human Resources published a report on carcinogens and part of that report says that styrene (element of polystyrene) is a human carcinogen that increases incidents of cancer in some clinical studies.

“We have taken the decision in line with the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ thrust on environmental issues and in our thrust to make St Vincent and the Grenadines a green island, to ban the importation of styrofoam products,” said Gonsalves.

He added that the legislation adopted locally is modelled off the 2015 Guyanese legislation and the Government studied several acts and regulations from across the region, as this country is not the first country in the region to ban the importation of styrofoam.

Gonsalves said that there are places in the world like British Colombia, San Francisco, Washington and Florida, which have a ban on all styrofoam products, but this country has decided to ban only the food related products.

“The Guyanese had a caveat, a little allowance made for the meat and fruit styrofoam trays; the Guyanese legislation allowed that, but our position was if we banning it, we banning it, so all styrofoam food products are banned,” said Gonsalves.

“We are impacted by the action of others regarding climate change and litter that is brought here by our tides and it is all fine and good to say the world is contributing to our environmental malaise, but we have to show our own commitment and dedication to environmental propriety and care of our oceans and sustainable development,” noted the minister.

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