One of Barbados’ major egg producers is seeking clarification on the plastics ban, raising concern that the polyethylene terephthalate used for the storing of eggs was not a single-use plastic and therefore should not be included in banned materials.
General Manager of the Chickmont Egg Division at The Ridge, Christ Church Trevor Gunby said he was concerned that government had indicated that egg trays would be affected by the ban.
From Monday, April 1, the importation of petro-based single-use plastics and styrofoam has been banned in Barbados. And on July 1, the retail, sale or use of those products will not be allowed. Anyone found guilty could be fined up to $50,000 or one year in prison, or both.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey, had explained earlier this year that products such as single-use plastic cups; egg trays, both plastic and styrofoam; plastic stirrers; straws; plates, and styrofoam containers used in culinary retail industry will be banned from the July date.
However, following a tour of the facility on Wednesday by Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Colin Jordan, Gunby told members of the media that he would be seeking a meeting with the Ministry of Maritime Affiars and the Blue Economy to put forward his concern and get a clarification.
He insisted that the Chickmont Egg Division had switched from plastic trays to the recyclable material over 13 years ago, explaining that the material now being used was recyclable.
“I can’t say the ban would not affect my packaging. It depends on the outcome of the decision by the authorities once a presentation is made with all the documentations to support the case, where the person who is going to make the final decision understands that this particular material is not plastic. It is a recyclable material,” insisted Gunby.
Although the polyethylene terephthalate is not biodegradable, when exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun the polyethylene’s polymer chains become brittle and eventually turn into microscopic synthetic granules.
Gunby told Barbados TODAY he has already supplied the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) with the information regarding the imported product and he would be seeking to set up a meeting with Minister Humphrey to make a presentation.
“The indication is that they would like us to go to the cardboard tray,” said Gunby.
However, he explained that using that material could lead to the trays getting soft when stored in the chillers in supermarkets if the temperature in the supermarket chillers was not right.
Gunby also explained that the cardboard trays were not made for printing of logos, bar codes and other requirements, stating that once wet the ink could start running and leak unto the eggs, which would create a whole new problem.
“So that is why I would like the opportunity to meet with the minister to give him the nitty-gritty of all of the finer points on the product,” said the industry leader, who has been in the business for the last 25 years.
Gunby made his point known today to Jordan, who toured the Christ Church facility as part of government’s ongoing outreach programme to hear from business operators and get a first-hand view and understanding of their operations.
In relation to recent introduction of the Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC) tax, which is capped at $1.50 per day on water bills for residents and set at a rate of 50 per cent of the water bills for commercial entities, Gunby said that would take a toll on the business.
While admitting that a full assessment was yet to be carried out, the egg producer said he was sure it would significantly increase production cost, and could possibly lead to a price increase for customers.
“It will drive up the cost of eggs when you apply that extra cost to your bottom line to the number of eggs you produce,” explained Gunby, who opted not to say how much the farm was currently paying for water monthly.
“First of all, the water rates seemed to have doubled and we will have to pass it on to customers but it will depend on the rates that we see. If it is a quarter of a cent we can’t pass it on but if it is three quarters of a cent we will have to pass it on,” he explained.
“The water rates are going up. I can’t suggest any increase in egg prices now because we have not dealt with the water rate increase yet,” he added.
That farm, which currently employs 30 people, uses over 12,000 gallons of water per day.