Local importers of environmentally friendly food packaging products are appealing to Government to provide them with a tax incentive.
At the same time, they have renewed their calls for a levy to be imposed on importers of styrofoam and plastic products.
Sarah Gray, the sector development manager for Vegware at the United Kingdom based manufacturer Brakes Catering, believes that ultimately a ban should be placed on the use of polystyrene products.
However, Gray suggested yesterday that for starters, Government should offer duty-free access to importers of compostable materials, in recognition of their eco-friendly way of doing business.
Gray argued that the move would not only make recyclable products more accessible, but more affordable as well.
“If we can make it more accessible and viable for people to be able to purchase then we can move away from polystyrene. The aim would be to ban polystyrene,” she said, adding that “customers would be able to buy the products and raise awareness and show that Barbados is a sustainable nation that wants to lead the way and be more environmentally friendly”.
Local ice-cream maker BICO became a Vegware supplier in May this year through its partnership with Brakes, offering a range of the disposable food containers, which are made from biodegradable plant material and which are compostable within 12 weeks.
General Manager Jo-anne Pooler said amid the current estimation that Barbadians use over 100 million plastic bags a year, BICO supported any move by Government to limit and ultimately ban the use of plastic and to encourage greater use of eco-friendly alternatives.
“I think we have to start recognizing the cost associated with the disposal of plastic and until we recognize that cost and until we start looking at recouping that cost at the beginning, rather than worrying about it at the end, then I really don’t see that we have an answer to our garbage problem,” said Pooler.
Warning that the country’s landfill could be overflowing in a matter of years if Barbadians continued with their current rate of garbage disposal, Pooler said that too much plastic was going to the dump.
“Right now we have a deposit on plastic soft drink bottles but not on plastic water bottles . . . so those plastic water bottles are going straight into the landfill. There is no recycling available for them. So I think there need to be financial incentives, but I think rather than saying reduce the duty on this product, we need to recognize what the cost of disposal of plastic is and tax it at that point,” added Pooler.
Both officials were speaking to Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of the annual BICO/Brakes UK Tradeshow at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
During the trade show, hoteliers, restaurateurs and café owners were introduced to and sampled a range of breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert products, teas, snacks, seasonings and juices.
Pooler said BICO, the local supplier of the Brakes products, was working closely with local hoteliers and other groups to identify their foods needs, adding that the reception was very encouraging.
And with new food trends in the UK, Zoey Gill, a food and business development chef with Brakes, told Barbados TODAY it was critical for local chefs to be aware of those trends.
“That is where we work with BICO, so that we are able to offer food solutions, menus that the British are still keen to enjoy at home as much as they do when they travel to Barbados,” said Gill.