Ja­maica closer to ban­ning plas­tic bags, sty­ro­foam

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Jo­van John­son Staff Re­porter BLOCKED DRAINS jo­van.john­son@glean­erjm.com

JA­MAICA IS a step closer to ban­ning plas­tic bags and sty­ro­foam fol­low­ing the Se­nate’s ap­proval of a pri­vate mem­ber’s mo­tion that has raised some con­cerns from the Op­po­si­tion, which said it sup­ported the “spirit” of the pro­posal.

Govern­ment Sen­a­tor Matthew Sa­muda found a re­cep­tive Se­nate yes­ter­day when he opened the de­bate on his mo­tion, which called for State ac­tion to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment from non-biodegrad­able solid waste.

“It is not be­yond Ja­maicans to use re­us­able bags when we go to the su­per­mar­ket or whole­sale. It is not be­yond us to en­sure that when we use sty­ro­foam, it is biodegrad­able, or to con­sider other options by way of card­board ma­te­rial. I am not propos­ing an in­stant ban,” he said, point­ing to al­ter­na­tives such as pa­per bags from re­cy­cled card­board multi-use sturdy bags.

“The ar­gu­ment against most of the al­ter­na­tives is usu­ally based in cost, but I posit to­day that the long-term cost of not re­mov­ing these items from our waste stream is far greater. It im­pacts gen­er­a­tions to­day and gen­er­a­tions to come.”

It’s es­ti­mated that it takes up to 500 years for sty­ro­foam to biode­grade, and about 50 per cent of non-biodegrad­able waste in Ja­maica is made up of sty­ro­foam and plas­tic bags.

Their con­tri­bu­tion to blocked drains pro­vok­ing flood across the coun­try and, most re­cently, along the Mar­cus Gar­vey Drive did not es­cape the Se­nate.

GraceKen­ndy Group Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Sen­a­tor Don We­hby, speak­ing from his govern­ment bench, said the mo­tion demon­strated the ur­gency needed to ad­dress Ja­maica’s waste-man­age­ment is­sues. He pro­posed that an in­cen­tive-based sys­tem be put in place to en­cour­age us­age of ecofriendly bags.

Mean­while, most of the Op­po­si­tion sen­a­tors who spoke said they sup­ported the ‘spirit’ of the mo­tion, but raised con­cerns about whether ad­e­quate con­sul­ta­tions, among other things were done.

Mark Gold­ing, leader of op­po­si­tion busi­ness, said he could not sup­port the mo­tion based on its pre­scrip­tive na­ture.

“I’m very wary of any kind of mo­tion brought to the Se­nate that tends to be pre­scrip­tive on the re­sponse to what the prob­lem is. The ram­i­fi­ca­tions of a par­tic­u­lar course of ac­tion need to be fully ven­ti­lated and con­sid­ered. This thing war­rants some se­ri­ous thought and con­sid­er­a­tion [and] con­sul­ta­tion,”

Govern­ment mem­bers pushed ahead with pass­ing the mo­tion, re­ject­ing a pro­posal from Op­po­si­tion mem­ber Lam­bert Brown for the mo­tion to be put be­fore a joint se­lect com­mit­tee of the Se­nate.

Sa­muda said the mo­tion is go to a multi-stake­holder com­mit­tee to be set up un­der the en­vi­ron­ment port­fo­lio headed by Daryl Vaz in the eco­nomic and growth min­istry in the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter.

That com­mit­tee’s work will in­form whether the min­is­ter is­sues any orders in line with rec­om­men­da­tions or take leg­is­la­tion to the Par­lia­ment to join Guyana as the other Caribbean Com­mu­nity coun­try to outlaw sty­ro­foam.

No time­line was given for the com­mit­tee’s work.

BROWN SA­MUDA

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