Expanded Polystyrene in the food and beverage industry

The issue and negative impacts of expanded polystyrene (EPS) used as disposable food ware (cups, plates, food containers, etc.) in the food and beverage industry continues to be an area of concern and priority for action.

The approach by Government was derived from a very extensive and collaborative interaction with stakeholders both in the public and private sector involved in the expanded polystyrene (EPS) industry as well as those who are involved in sustainable alternative packaging.  As a result of the consultations, a Multi-Stakeholder Working Committee was established to develop a suitable mechanism to phase-out the use of EPS in the food and beverage industry. The Committee was subdivided into Technical Working Groups to examine recycling, socio-economic impacts, as well as the alternative packaging, health and environmental implications. This detailed engagement also ensured that all parties were given ample opportunity to share information, and were kept in a privileged position to know what type of future investments should be undertaken.

As a result of this coordinated and agreed approach, which was conducted since 2017 for over one year, the decision was made to ban the importation of finished expanded polystyrene (EPS) in the food and beverage industry, remove customs duty on alternative products, and to encourage the manufacturing sector to transition to manufacturing more environmentally sustainable products.

The Ministry of Attorney General and Legal Affairs, in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Planning and Development and the Ministry of Finance have been actively collaborating, and are in the final stages, of developing the legal framework to give effect to the ban on the importation of the finished EPS Products for the Food and Beverage Sector into Trinidad and Tobago, the removal of customs duty on alternatives, as well as the ban on manufacture EPS Products for the Food and Beverage Sector. As was stated in the 2020 National Budget Statement, the import of finished expanded polystyrene (EPS) in the food and beverage industry will commence from January 1, 2020. The manufacturing of expanded polystyrene (EPS) in the food and beverage industry will be banned from June 1st 2020.

The Government remains committed to ensuring the well-being of all citizens and will continue to work towards the phasing out of expanded polystyrene (EPS) food and beverage containers in Trinidad and Tobago  as expeditiously as possible and with due diligence. The Government is also working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the alternatives used meet the necessary standards of biodegradability and composability.

I wish to reiterate that this Government and the Ministry of Planning and Development is committed to working with all stakeholders and interested parties to ensure that the measures implemented such as those I have described are in the best interest of the environment, the wellbeing of our citizenry, and our precious natural heritage.  We look forward to a cleaner and healthier environment, remembering always that Environmental Pride is National Pride.

 

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