As Barbados grapples with illegal dumping and garbage pile-ups across the island, at least two private sector officials say they would support either a tax or a ban on polystyrene foam products.
Arguing for a cleaner and healthier environment, Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Alex McDonald told Barbados TODAY there was a need for restrictions to be placed on harmful “packaging such as styrofoam.
“What I would like to see on a personal basis is an approach which is gaining favour around the world, which is using taxation to discourage harmful packaging like styrofoam products, which are really littering and damaging our environment, clogging up beaches and going in the drains and so on,” said McDonald.
“I would not be opposed personally to that type of tax or that type of ban because we can probably find more creative ways to package food products. It is difficult but it is not over and above what we can do as a nation,” he told Barbados TODAY in an interview.
Guyana is the latest country to place a ban on the importation of styrofoam.
Last October, the Government in Georgetown announced that effective April this year it would be illegal to import or use styrofoam in the hope of reducing the effects of polystyrene foam products on its solid waste management.
However, McDonald acknowledged that whether Barbados decided to go the same route as Guyana or to tax the polystyrene products, the plan would have to be “well thought out and discussed” with industry players and stakeholders.
In a separate interview, President of the Barbados Manufacturers Association (BMA) Jason Sambrano told Barbados TODAY he too was concerned about littering and the number of styrofoam containers strewn across the island.
“Obviously, we need to be practical in what we do in terms of taxation, but if it is having a serious environmental impact, it needs to be taken into consideration,” he said.
“Proper disposal of it comes at a cost which, if it is in the best interest of the environment and the country as a whole, if there needs to be a tax placed on it to ensure its proper management, then that is something I would support,” said Sambrano.
Turning his attention to the overall issue of garbage pile-up and illegal dumping, Sambrano argued that given the small size of the country, if allowed to continue, it would start to impact negatively on the island’s tourism product.
In May last year, Government introduced a $25 tipping fee, which was immediately rejected by private waste haulers. They demanded it be scrapped on the grounds that it was unfair and threatened the survival of their business.
Then in July of that year, Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe announced a waiver of the controversial fee.
Up to this week individuals who were caught engaging in illegal dumping were being ordered to clean up the area.
Sambrano said there was need for “a higher level of education” among residents on the importance of proper garbage disposal, especially waste that was not biodegradable.
“I think we have a responsibility to the island’s future generations to make sure that the garbage that we generate now is properly dealt with,” said Sambrano, adding that both individuals and businesses should be more responsible in the disposal of their garbage.