Government is giving more time before the plastics ban comes into effect.
Instead of the April 1 deadline, an adjustment to the ban on the importation of single-use plastics now puts the effective date at July 1.
Announcing the extension, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey said it is to accommodate vendors and packaging firms who asked for more time to get rid of hundreds of thousands of dollars in product ahead of a national ban on the importation and use of styrofoam and single-use plastics.
“But after July 1, that is it,” he said.
“We have gone as far as we can go to accommodate everybody. I have made some very good friends who are environmentalists and I know they are probably watching television or listening to the radio, and I would get a million Whatsapp messages. But we have to govern for everybody. We have to govern for the environmentalist; we have to govern for the manufacturers, the importers, and the retailers.
“Mr Speaker Sir, I do not feel good knowing a lot of vendors still have a lot of styrofoam containers because they got them legitimately, under the impression that they could still use them after April 1. They were misled because we never said so. Three more months in the whole scheme of things is not going to kill us, but it would do a lot of good for the poor people,” Humphrey said, as he made his contribution to the debate on the Appropriation Bill 2019 in Parliament last night.
Last September, Humphrey announced the ban saying, “We have had all through this process, consultation with the people. I have met with every possible group to discuss how we are going to approach single-use plastics. And in the beginning I must tell you I wanted to ban almost every plastic. But after a lot of consultation, we have brought the list down to a very manageable list.”
“In September, when I spoke to the people who import most of the single use plastics, and the styrofoam, they told me that they need six months to get rid of their stock.
“We were saying January 1, which was three months, but they say if you give me six months I can get rid of all of my stock. So we moved the proposed ban from January 1 2019 to April 1, giving them six months, not on my recommendation; not on the Prime Minister’s recommendation or the recommendation of the Cabinet, but on their recommendation,” he explained.
The Minister said he has been listening carefully to the packaging firms that import single-use plastics, complaining and saying they needed more time to sell their stock.
“And in all fairness to them, from the time we started talking about the ban, people weren’t buying at the same rate. So the six months now became a little more time. But when the people who use the styrofoam plates in the chicken industry, says Mr Minister you cannot ban the styrofoam trays, we said okay, we won’t ban the styrofoam trays.
“When the persons who manufacture plastic bags said you can’t ban it by April 1, we need more time, we said okay we will give you until January first 2020, because we heard the people. Now many vendors are telling us that April 1, 2019, is too soon for them. We are making an adjustment to accommodate the vendors who find themselves in many cases stuck with a lot of styrofoam,” he said.