Food vendors’ complaints of expensive but flimsy alternatives to plastic food service containers have been met with a stiff response from Minister Kirk Humphrey – be more discerning in your purchase of packaging.
The Minister of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy told Barbados TODAY that alternatives in the wake of the ban on single-use plastics are plentiful. He said that with the proper due diligence, sturdy, cost-effective options can be found.
“I have heard people speak about the quality of the containers and I wish to make the point that no matter what it is, if you buy cheap then you are going to get cheap. If you buy the least expensive container then you are going to get a container that performs the worst. I think that there are options out there because we have seen them.”
Barbados TODAY had reported that while many food sellers were grateful for the extra time to work through the stock of polystyrene (Styrofoam) containers, they complained that the alternative products were too expensive and of inferior quality .
Over the weekend, a social media video showed pudding and souse dripping out of a soggy non-plastic food container. “This is not even a hot food,” complained an unidentified vendor. “This is cold souse and the water is dripping out of it and these cost over 40 dollars.”
But Humphrey’s response was that this problem could be solved through consultation with both vendors and retailers to educate them on the best biodegradable products available.
He said: “We are going to be having a consultation with the vendors very shortly and we are inviting a number of persons who are importing the alternatives, to show the vendors what is available.
“A lot of the vendors are relying on the wholesalers and distributors for their education and they may not be getting the best education from them. We need to show them that there are really good quality alternatives that are not that expensive.”
The Minister said he is not surprised by the teething problems since the ban on importing single-use plastics took effect on Monday. He said he expected that the new approach would take some getting used to but expressed confidence that over time Barbadians would adapt.
He added: “Of course, there are going to be teething problems because we are asking people to make a substantial change in the way that they operate. It is like asking a man who has been using sugar his whole life to stop using sugar.”
Since Monday, the importation of single-use plastics has been prohibited while on July 1, the ban on sale of these products will take effect.
Products such as single-use plastic cups; cutlery, including plastic knives, forks and spoons; stirrers; straws; plates; egg trays (both plastic and polystyrene), and polystyrene containers used in the culinary retail industry are on the list of prohibited items.