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UPDATED: Senate approves motion proposing ban on plastic bags and Styrofoam in Jamaica

Published:Friday | October 7, 2016 | 10:49 PM

Jovan Johnson, Parliamentary Reporter

The Senate this afternoon approved a private motion brought by Government member Matthew Samuda proposing a ban on plastic bags and Styrofoam in Jamaica.

The motion will now go before a mutli-stakeholder committee which will fall under the environment portfolio headed by Daryl Vaz in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

Samuda said after the committee's review, the minister may either issue orders bringing into effect the recommendations or take legislation to the Parliament. 

Government members rejected a recommendation from Opposition Senators for the motion to be sent to a joint select committee of the Senate.

Samuda, who is also president of the Generation 2000, the professional arm of the governing Jamaica Labour Party, opened the debate this morning arguing that the cost to ban non-biodegradable bags and Styrofoam is far less than the long-term cost of using them.

It’s estimated that it takes up to 500 years for Styrofoam to biodegrade.

Samuda said some of Jamaica's big businesses have already taken steps to stop using plastic bags and Styrofoam which make up almost 50 per cent of non-biodegradable waste.

He said the Government should establish an organisation to oversee the introduction of the ban and alternatives such as biodegradable bags and cardboard.

 

Government Senator Matthew Samuda

Meanwhile, Opposition Member, Sophia Frazer Binns, while supporting the motion, said questions have to be asked about how small businesses will cope.

She noted that 70 per cent of Styrofoam is produced locally and the government will have to consider a phased introduction as well as offer incentives for the use of alternatives.

 

Opposition Senator Sophia Frazer Binns

She said Jamaica is facing a waste management crisis and it should be addressed.

The issue of the use of plastic and styrofoam has received more attention in recent times following flooding in the Corporate Area after short periods of rain.

In April, Guyana banned the importation of Styrofoam.