No compensation is pending for those who now have to get rid of thousands of dollars worth of petro-based plastics and styrofoam products after the ban on those items take effect in the next nine days, said Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey.
And while he has not ruled out the possibility of granting an extension to some individuals on a case-by-case-basis, he made it clear that there would be no further extension to the deadline.
Government has put a ban on single use petro-based plastics and styrofoam products effective July 1. The importation on those products has been banned since April 1, to give vendors and retailers an opportunity to get rid of their existing stock.
When the prohibition was first announced in September last year, the original deadline was January 1, but due to an outcry, Government had granted an extension to July 1.
“So I think the Government has been fair in that regard,” said Humphrey.
But while many businesses have made the switch from single-use plastics and styrofoam products, others are still racing against the clock to get rid of the items.
Several retailers have written to Minister Humphrey seeking an extension to the July 1 deadline.
Pointing out that the Barbados Private Sector Association has also been meeting with him on the matter on behalf of some members, Humphrey promised to give them an ear, but said it was unlikely there would be any widespread extension.
But he quickly pointed out that under the Control of Disposable Plastics Act, he had the power to grant special considerations and therefore “every case will be taken on its own merit”.
“We are going to have those conversations over the next few weeks. I don’t think we are going to make other amendments in relation to the date, but during a transition period you live and you learn.
“I would be an unwise person if the circumstances have changed and I decided I made a position and I am sticking to it. So far they haven’t. I believe that July 1 is a fair date. We are not making any unnecessary adjustments.”
He insisted that whatever stock was left on hand after the deadline they would be dealt with by the Sanitation Services Authority or through a partnership that Government had formed with a company to convert the petro-based products into fuel.
Humphrey said he was hoping for a smooth and short transition period to rid the island of all the single-use plastics and styrofoam, adding that there had been enough education on the matter and that the systems to accommodate the transition were in place.
A number of vendors and retailers have been complaining that they were losing big time due to the high costs associated with the alternatives to styrofoam products.
Others have also expressed concern about having to dump possibly thousands of dollars worth of single-use plastics and styrofoam products should they not be sold before the deadline.
Asked if there was any kind of compensation or incentives in sight for those individuals and companies, Humphrey said: “in a nutshell, no”.
He added: “When we started the conversation the suppliers are the ones who said ‘give me six months, I can move my stuff’.
“We gave them nine months and unfortunately some people haven’t been able to get rid of all of the stuff. Is the Government going to be paying them for the stock that they have on had? No.
“The country is going through a significant recession. The Government is in the middle of a structural adjustment programme. We do not have the financial space, liberty and freedom to make those kinds of decisions.
Humphrey added that he did not expect the small suppliers and vendors to have stock on hand after July 1.
He explained that after that date, he expected a lot of the plastics would be going to the landfill.
But the Minister said a non-Governmental organization has been designing a pilot pyrolysis recycling process that would convert the single use plastics into oil.
Humphrey said: “They believe they could convert 500 kilogrammes a day of these petro-based plastic.
“So we are going to send some of them to that company as well and generate about 370 kilogrammes of oil that can be reused into the system.
“But at the end of the day I am thankful that people have heeded the message.”