Clar­ity on plas­tic, sty­ro­foam ban

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS -

THE ED­I­TOR, Sir:

FIRST, I wish to ac­knowl­edge The Gleaner’s con­tin­ued sup­port of the pol­icy ini­tia­tive an­nounced by the Govern­ment of Ja­maica on Septem­ber 17, 2018.

The pol­icy an­nounce­ment re­lated to the ban­ning of three plas­tic packaging ma­te­ri­als on a phased ba­sis: specif­i­cally, sin­gle-use plas­tic bags be­low 24x24 inches, sty­ro­foam packaging for food and bev­er­ages, and plas­tic straws, with lim­ited ex­emp­tions. This an­nounce­ment has met with sup­port na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally from the ma­jor­ity of stake­hold­ers.

It’s a strong pol­icy that sends the sig­nal to the coun­try that the Govern­ment is con­cerned about en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion, caused by solid waste and, more im­por­tant, is pre­pared to act. This is the first of many pol­icy di­rec­tives to come (in­clud­ing a pol­icy for PET bot­tles).

I, how­ever, do feel the need to add clar­ity to as­ser­tions made in the ed­i­to­rial pub­lished on Wed­nes­day, Novem­ber 7, 2018. As it re­lates to the fines for breaches of the min­is­te­rial or­der, this very news­pa­per has al­ready printed pre­vi­ously the fines on Septem­ber 20, 2018. The fines as al­lowed un­der the Trade Act Sec­tion 13 C are up to J$2 mil­lion.

Un­for­tu­nately, any con­fu­sion re­gard­ing the re­quired leg­is­la­tion was due to what I view as the mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion from The Gleaner in its ini­tial cov­er­age of the an­nounce­ment of the ban. As the ed­i­to­rial noted, this mo­tion was passed in the Se­nate in 2016.

Plan­ning and con­sul­ta­tion have been on in earnest since then. The Govern­ment has been in con­stant di­a­logue with in­dus­try stake­hold­ers who will be af­fected. Surely, two years of con­sul­ta­tion must be suf­fi­cient.

IN­FOR­MA­TIVE CAM­PAIGN

The pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign aimed at sen­si­tis­ing the broader pub­lic as to de­tails of the ban and avail­able al­ter­na­tives will com­mence on Sun­day, Novem­ber 11. This cam­paign will in­volve above­and be­low-the-line mar­ket­ing pro­grammes. Th­ese in­clude place­ments in tra­di­tional me­dia (TV, ra­dio, and news­pa­per), along with a dig­i­tal me­dia cam­paign.

The Govern­ment will part­ner with lo­cal govern­ment agen­cies and au­thor­i­ties to make pre­sen­ta­tions at cit­i­zen meet­ings and town halls na­tion­ally. Cul­ture will not change overnight. How­ever, this is a far gen­tler im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod when one com­pares this ac­tion to those of some of our Caribbean and African neigh­bours.

I wish to thank The Gleaner for the con­tin­ued fo­cus on this all-im­por­tant is­sue. MATTHEW SAMUDA Govern­ment Sen­a­tor

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