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TASK-FORCE SEEKING ALTERNATIVES TO STYROFOAM AND PLASTICS

TASK-FORCE SEEKING ALTERNATIVES TO STYROFOAM AND PLASTICS
October 05
12:42 2018

Since the government introduced legislation to phase out the use of Styrofoam and single-use plastic utensils by 2019, several government departments, NGOs and industry stakeholders have been engaged in a collaborative effort to draft the standards which will guide the industry under the new law.

A working task force comprising various government departments, including the Department of the Environment and the Customs Department, as well as organizations such as Oceana, the Belize Tourism Industry Association and others, has been formed to hash out the details. The government met with several industry stakeholders on Monday to discuss what alternatives would be most suitable for importation.

Louis Garcia, manager of Eco Friendly Solutions Ltd., told the Reporter that the discussion about alternatives has been a tricky one because certain bio-degradable materials don’t have a very long shelf life, and as such, some of these products would not be suitable for importation especially from long distances. He said the industry is still young and is only now beginning to develop regulated standards.

“We’ve been importing products for the last 10 years but business has been terrible,” Garcia told the Reporter. He said now with the new legislation business has started picking up slowly, but said the challenge is that there has not been any determination yet as to what type of products to use. He said some importers may end up losing their investments because some of the material currently being imported by other stakeholders may be rejected in the final draft of the standards.

For instance, he explained, some bio-degradable utensils are made from starch-based products. But even with a starch-based product, he elaborated, there are still elements of petroleum to preserve the integrity of the utensil. He said the standards being drafted will need to set out clearly what the ratio must be between biodegradable and non-biodegradable ingredients.
The task force is expected to have a complete version of its draft ready in the next few months before the legislation comes into full effect.

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