Government lauded for implementing polystyrene “Styrofoam” materials ban

Polystyrene waste. Photo: Grenada Green Group (G3)

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • 1 September 2018 – ban on importation of polystyrene “Styrofoam” materials
  • 1 February 2019 – ban on single-use shopping bags
  • 1 March 2019 – ban on sale of polystyrene “Styrofoam” materials

Ian Blaikie, a member of the Grenada Green Group (G3), has lauded government for taking the bold step to ban the importation of polystyrene “Styrofoam” materials from 1 September 2018.

On Tuesday, during the weekly post-cabinet briefing, Minister for Climate Resilience and the Environment, Senator Simon Stiell signalled to Grenada and the rest of the world that the ban on importation is the first phase. This will be followed by a ban on the sale of “Styrofoam” effective 1 March 2019, after which the sale or the use of “Styrofoam” to sell food will be prohibited.

Blaikie said the slow pace of implementation has been disappointing. “We would like Grenada to have been in the forefront of banning plastics and “Styrofoam”, but we have been overtaken by so many other territories, including Caribbean ones; but better late than never, and we welcome this first step.”

Government is also seeking the reduction of single-use plastics, an initiative approved by the Grenada Green Group (G3).

Blaikie has advised government to look into implementing a tax on single-use plastics to help reduce the impact of this biohazardous material on the environment. “England is upping the charge to 10p. G3 has always preferred a “tax” on bags, ie a charge, over an outright ban. The bags are re-usable as eg garbage bags, and paper bags have serious environmental drawbacks. It is the wanton habit of supermarkets of foisting absurd numbers of bags on customers — I have seen 4 items in 3 bags inflicted on a customer. My witnessed average is 2.8 items per bag — that we oppose. We prefer a charge, and we also like Chile’s “transition” approach of allowing only 2 bags per transaction. Customers stand back and accept absurd numbers of bags. We think that a 10 or 20 cent charge would be an excellent idea.”

Regarding the enforcement of the Abatement of Litter Act, Blaikie believes more can be done to ensure compliance.

“G3 sees the failure to enact the law (ie appointment of litter wardens, equipping wardens and police with the necessary penalty notices) as a key reason why there has been no real change in attitude among the public. It has been very disappointing. To quote a selection of comments from those we’ve spoken to, “littering is part of the national psyche”; “People are comfortable with litter”; “People feel they’re entitled to litter and have others pick up after them.”

Nothing will change until litterers are penalised. Education is essential, but those who resist or ignore reasoned argument will have to be fined — as with seatbelts. G3 continues to lobby and to educate but needs the backing of the implemented law.”

[L-R]- Shireen Streete and fashion designer Ronda Streete
Another individual who fully welcomes the idea to ban polystyrene materials is Shireen Streete, who operates an environmental company called Streete’s Upcycling Designs. Upcycling is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful. Her company produces luxury items out of recycled materials including handbags, shoes, household items among others.

Streete also applauds government for taking this initiative, saying this is a step in right direction. “We are having. a serious issue with “Styrofoam” and at present I am working on ways to utilise “Styrofoam” in my designs instead of throwing it into the trash.”

She said, “My desire is to establish a recycling museum where tourists can come and view what Grenadians have to do with trash and I know this is going to happen because I am not going to stop at teaching children. I think this will benefit Grenada.”

Under the Non-Biodegradable Waste Control Act, the importation ban on single-use shopping bags comes into effect on 1 February 2019.

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