Environmentalists request more details concerning plastics, styrofoam ban

Dr. Peter Edwards


More areas of concern have surfaced in relation to the impending ban on plastic bags, styrofoam and plastic drinking straws.

Environmental and business interests also have questions about the enforcement activities that will become necessary, and the cost.

The announcement of the ban was made on Monday by Daryl Vaz, Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Details of how the regime will work and the mechanisms to be put in place have been requested by the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET).

Dr. Peter Edwards, Council Member of the Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals, speaking Monday on RJR’s Beyond the Headlines, expressed caution about how it will be administered and the costs associated with that.

“It costs to enforce things; it costs to validate, and of course it’s going to cost the manufacturers as well,” he noted, but quickly added that while it might be relatively cheap to manufacture plastic products, “it is expensive in the long run.”

He also expressed reservations about the grant of exemptions for the continued use of some of these plastic items, for medical procedures, among other uses, “…because if you exempt something, how are you going to make sure that it isn’t getting into the regular stream?”

He added that it would have been good to impose a cost to the consumers on the continued use of some plastic items during a phase-in period and use the revenue earned for research and development of alternative materials.


In response to some of the enforcement concerns, Anthony McKenzie, Director for Environmental Management and Conservation at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) explained that the agency will audit the producers “to ensure that those that are exempted are allowed, and those that are banned will not be in production.”

He importation issues will be addressed under the Trade Act, while applications for exemptions will be handled by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority, a unit of NEPA.










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