Local ice cream manufacturer BICO is looking to take a bite out of the garbage problem facing the country.
The company announced today that it was moving away from styrofoam and polystyrene and would soon begin using compostable cutlery and containers.
General Manager Jo-anne Pooler told a media conference held to announce the company’s financial results for the period ending September 30, 2015 that the switch to the environmentally friendly products would help ease the pressure on the already overflowing landfill.
“Not only is styrofoam damaging to the person because it leaks toxins into hot foods and drinks, but it is extremely damaging to the environment,” she said, stressing that it took an estimated 500 years for styrofoam to break down.
“But even if it is there only for 50 years, that is 50 years the landfill is overflowing with these products.”
Pooler said the eco-friendly products would be sourced from the UK-based company Vegware and the first shipment was expected here within a matter of weeks.
Vegware describes itself as the only completely compostable packaging company operating globally, adding that its catering disposables are low carbon, made from renewable or recycled materials, and can be recycled along with food waste.
BICO announced last October that it was partnering with the UK company Brakes Catering to bring a wide range of top brand British food and catering products to the Barbados market. Pooler said the switch to Vegware products was a result of that partnership.
The ice cream executive advised Barbadian businesses to move away from styrofoam because it was bad for both the environment and the population.
“We all know what happens when stagnant water gathers. When you look around Barbados it is appalling to see the amount of styrofoam and plastic products lying around . . . . We are hoping that having an alternative to styrofoam will first encourage individuals to look to say ‘yes, I want to continue to keep Barbados beautiful and not litter it with these horrible plastic items’. They will also encourage the Government to look to see if we can solve some of their garbage problems.
“I think we have all recognized that we do have a huge garbage problem. We do need to do something about it. Polystyrene cannot be recycled and styrofoam cannot be recycled,” the BICO boss stressed.
Pooler also recommended that Government offer incentives to encourage Barbadians to use eco-friendly alternatives.
“There have been other places that have taken an extreme approach to completely ban styrofoam . . . However there are countries that haven’t had to ban it, but the consumers are the ones that have to take the lead and say ‘you know what, my environment is more important than this.’”
BICO recorded an increase in profits before tax of about 15 per cent to $501,614 up from $435,415 the previous year.
Pooler described the rise as “very promising” and attributed it to the performance of the food service division, which recorded a 14 per cent rise, and the partnership with the Brakes Catering.
In addition, she said the company reduced its energy costs by about 13 per cent for the financial year.
However, there was a slight decline in mobile fleet business, which is operated independently.