The public relations officer (PRO) of the Future Centre Trust has no sympathy for local packaging firms crying out for more time to get rid of thousands of dollars of product ahead of a national ban on the importation and use of Styrofoam and single-use plastics.
An unapologetic Kammie Holder said companies had years to prepare for this but refused to do so.
Last month, some of the packaging firms told Barbados TODAY that while they could meet the April 1 deadline set by Government, they feared they would have substantial stock still left on their hands once the ban was in place. At least one packaging firm confirmed that it had a 20-foot container on the way to Barbados with 1.4 million bags and two containers with styrofoam products, which were ordered at the end of last year.
However, speaking this morning at BICO’s Eco-Pak Biodegradable Expo which showcased a wide range of high-quality eco-ware to food industry representatives at Cricket Legends, Fontabelle, St Michael, Holder said more than enough time had been given for companies to get with the programme.
“There was ample notice for importers and manufacturers. Some of them had the audacity to say that they imported container loads last year, knowing that this ban was coming,” he said.
“This initiative was first started in 2010 when we first had No Plastic Bag Day. And last year, we amplified what was coming, and some of them still went ahead and ordered stuff. So I have no sympathy.”
The new policy will see single-use plastic cutlery, including cups, knives, forks and spoons; stirrers; straws; plates; and egg trays being banned.
Holder thanked the Government for understanding the need for sustainability and for keeping its promise to put the brakes on the use of plastic and styrofoam in the country.
“This opportunity cannot be seen—or should not be seen—as a negative. Just as there is something called the law of unwanted benefits, there are many benefits also to be had from this initiative. This opportunity provides small farmers and one of the greatest landowners in this country the opportunity to provide bagasse, by producing more sugar cane.
“And we can now provide bagasse to Trinidad which plans to have a manufacturing plant to make bagasse-based food containers,” the PRO said.
Holder said there was also an opportunity for many small businesses to start making bags from old clothing.
He also maintained that the ban was good for the health of Barbadians.
“Persons use Styrofoam containers in the wrong way….You are heating food in a styrofoam container. You are buying chips in a styrofoam container and it is melting. Styrene [a chemical contained in Styrofoam] is what is known as a hormone disruptor. People don’t think about those sort of things, and sometimes we have to seek to protect people from themselves.
“This ban could not be a day sooner. To wait a day longer would cause the country a tremendous amount of money,” he contended.
Holder pledged his commitment to the effort to promote alternatives to Styrofoam and single-use plastics and called on corporate Barbados to play its part as well.