Saturday 22 February, 2020

Styrofoam ban to take effect January 1

Senator Matthew Samuda

Senator Matthew Samuda

As of January 1, 2020, the Government will impose a ban on the local manufacture, distribution and use of expanded polystyrene foam products used in the food and beverage industry.

The move is part of initiatives to place greater focus on waste and pollution control.

Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Senator Matthew Samuda said public education has been done on the subject, and he is comfortable that people are aware of the step that is being taken.

“Much like the plastic bag… we expect that some (products) will take a little while to be fully used up, but we do expect that early in the New Year you will see a marked reduction in the use of styrofoam food containers,” Samuda said.

He stated that the ban on expanded polystyrene foam products is good for the environment and for public health.

Samuda also reiterated that persons who breach the ban will be liable for prosecution.

“We encourage people to be compliant from day one. As you would have seen… over 40 businesses have been fined since the ban was implemented on plastic bags. We expect that a similar level of vigilance will take place from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the varying agencies,” he said.

On January 1, 2019, a ban was placed on specific categories of single-use plastic products.

The overall ban relates to the importation, manufacture and use of plastic bags of dimensions 24”x24” and thickness of 1.2 mil or less; the importation, manufacture and use of plastic drinking straws, except those attached to juice boxes and tetrapaks, as well as straws utilised by the medical sector and the disabled community; and the importation of expanded polystyrene foam (commonly called styrofoam) that are used in the food and beverage industry.

Two ministerial orders were signed under the Trade Act and the Natural Resources and Conservation Authority (NRCA) Act to reinforce the ban.

The maximum fine under the Trade Act (Trade Plastic Packing Material Order) 2018 is $2 million, while under the NRCA (Plastic Packaging Prohibiting) Order 2018, the fine is $50,000. Both Orders carry a term of imprisonment of two years.

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