Robinson-Regis: Trinidad and Tobago is ready for styrofoam ban

The Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development refutes the stance taken by some businesses that Trinidad and Tobago is not ready for the Styrofoam ban. The Honourable Minister reiterates that Government has joined the international community in its quest to position the environment at the center of social and economic development through Cabinet’s policy to ban the importation of non-biodegradable expanded polystyrene (EPS) or styrofoam food and beverage containers.

Since 2017, Government embarked on 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 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, 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 Honourable Minister also emphasized Government’s commitment to address the issue of waste in this country as improper disposal of waste impacts negatively both on the economy and the environment. As part of the domestic policy framework, the Integrated Solid Waste Resource Management Policy established the overall plan for managing the country’s waste. One of the main objectives of the policy is to manage waste in an integrated manner in accordance with the waste management hierarchy, whereby there is greater emphasis on the reduction of toxicity and volumes of waste by prioritising reuse, recycling and source-separated organic waste management.

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.We look forward to a cleaner and healthier environment, remembering always that Environmental Pride is National Pride.


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