Styrofoam ban timeline now in place

Residents still have reservations on how the country will transition from the ban on styrofoam products by 2018 as the Antigua & Barbuda government has now outlined the ban’s phases.

Consumers told OBSERVER media that they welcome the change for health and environmental reasons but government needs to make assurances that the best alternatives are available.

A cook shop owner said, “Most people don’t even want you to put their food in the microwave with styrofoam because it’s not safe.” She added that if the alternative is user safe she had no issue.

On the other hand, a man buying food said, “If I have to buy something that people are going to walk and throw away every day, of course I’m going to have to jack up the price…let’s say I’m on the road and chiney don’t have a container, wha me go do walk with one bowl?”

The concerns of both residents should be addressed in phase one of the ban, which Information Minister Melford Nicholas explained, as a six month public information campaign to raise the consciousness of the public about its dangers.

“Not only would it harbour well for our own society in the long-term contribution to the protection and stewardship of our environment but it will also illustrate Antigua’s leadership in this field in the region,“ Nicholas said.

During a cabinet press briefing yesterday, Nicholas said the alternatives presented by the Sustainable Implementation Officer of the Environment Division will be biodegradable and derivatives from corn and sugar cane just to start.

“The movement now, globally, is to move towards more natural substances,” Nicholas said as the second phase of the ban will focus on import restrictions, especially on food service materials to include; food trays and egg cartons.

At the end of this phase, the official suggested that materials stocked before the ban would have had sufficient time run out, therefore allowing the transition to move forward.

With the final stage targeted at fisher coolers, the press release indicated that the styrofoam coolers used to store catches on ice will be replaced by alternatives made from mycelium, polymathic and mushroom materials.

The experts from the environment division have reportedly held consultations with the importers, supermarkets and other stakeholders that purchase styrofoam products for use.

The Cabinet press release has reported the cost impact of the switch as “marginal” and the information minister said the same support will be given to suppliers as was done with the phasing out of plastic bags.

Residents will also benefit from a waiver on the current government taxes on the new environmental friendly replacements.

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