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Published:Thursday | January 28, 2021 | 12:26 AM

Manufacturers slam plastic, styrofoam ban

The Jamaican Government’s ban against local production and distribution of styrofoam has caused a near quadrupling in imports of non-biodegradable options, the island’s chief manufacturing lobby has charged.

The Holness administration has, since 2020, phased in prohibitions against styrofoam and specific grades of plastic to curb environmental damage linked to poor waste- disposal practices.

But the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) has criticised the policy as a failure, blaming it for a factory shutdown and 140 job losses while fuelling a surge in environmentally unsafe alternatives. The organisation said that the bans have not represented a win for the environment.

Imports of plastic boxes and similar products for the food packaging of goods rose from US$5.12 million in 2019 to US$12.4 million in 2020, the JMEA said.

Quantities imported grew from 1,063 tons in 2019 to approximately 4,200 tons last year.

“Local styrofoam production has simply been replaced with foreign plastic alternatives, supporting external economies while the desired environmental impact of the ban has not been achieved,” said the JMEA statement.

“Moreover, promises made to compensate businesses for materials destroyed now appears to be utterances rather than commitments.”

The missive by the Richard Pandohie-led lobby was a rebuke to the Government weeks after it activated the third phase of its ban, with full compliance expected by June 2021.

That phase incorporates the importation, distribution, manufacture, and use of commercial single-use plastic bags of dimensions not exceeding 24”x24” (610mmx610mm) and thickness of 2.5 mils (0.06mm).

It also includes drinking straws made wholly or in part of polyethylene or polypropylene, manufactured for single-use, and attached to, or forming part of, the packaging of juice boxes or drink pouches.

Mavado’s son, crony convicted of murder

The teenage son of Jamaican dancehall star Mavado has been convicted of murder.

Dante Brooks, 18, was also found guilty of illegal possession of firearm and arson in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston on Thursday.

His co-accused, Andre Hinds, was also found guilty.

The two were arrested and charged in connection with the home-invasion killing of Lorenzo Thomas in the St Andrew community of Cassava Piece on June 5, 2018.

Prosecutors led evidence that Brooks and Hinds were among five men who entered the house and shot Thomas before pushing his father into another room.

Thomas’ killers attempted to sever his head but aborted that plan because the machete was too dull. They then poured gasolene on the house and body before setting them on fire.

The convicts are to be sentenced on March 10.

Scammer to pay Gov’t $6 million

A 31-year-old St James lottery scammer has been ordered to pay the Government $6 million over the next 10 years.

The payment is part of a pecuniary penalty order obtained by Financial Investigations Division (FID) under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

The man was convicted in 2015 after pleading guilty to unlawful possession of identity information with intent to use.

In a media statement issued on Wednesday, the FID said that Romander Fletcher reportedly benefited to the tune of J$11.4 million from his participation in the lottery scam over a four-year period leading up to his 2014 arrest.

Fletcher’s role was to collect remittances and direct transfers to his bank account, following which he withdrew the funds, thereby ending the paper trail, FID reported.

Courtney Smith, FID’s director of legal services, said the matter dragged on for years as Fletcher sought to mount a reasonable defence, claiming that he could not out the mastermind because of the risk of harm to him and his family.