Opposition wants more information on plastic, Styrofoam bans
The Opposition, while welcoming the bans on single-use shopping bags, straws, and Styrofoam, wants the Government to outline how it will be implemented.
The bans, which were announced on Monday, are to take effect on January 1, 2019.
In a statement, Senator Sophia Frazer-Binns, Spokesperson on the Environment, says the opposition is concerned about the lack of information.
Also, Frazer-Binns says the opposition is concerned about, among other things, the displacement to Jamaicans who use single-use plastic bags commonly known as 'scandal bags for garbage disposal.
The People’s National Party welcomes the recent announcement of the Government to ban the use and importation of single-use plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, and drinking straws. This is a commendable move that will help in the protection and preservation of the environment.
The Opposition notes with concern that there is a lack of information on the operationalisation and implementation of the scheme and calls on the government to quickly move to provide further and better particulars on how this initiative will be implemented.
Additionally, the Opposition notes the following concerns:
1) NEPA is charged with providing the exemption to business, institutions or individuals who wish to seek an exemption from the application of this scheme, however, it is not clear what are the guidelines or the consideration that will guide NEPA’s deliberation. At the same time, it is unclear whether NEPA has the requisite resources human and otherwise to effectively undertake this new task assigned to it. As a consequence, the government should ensure adequate resources are provided to enable NEPA to undertake its task effectively and efficiently.
2) Undoubtedly, there is likely to be some financial implications with the adoption of this new policy by some businesses. The government has mentioned that a framework will be worked out with DBJ to provide some assistance. Such profound and far reaching measures require the government to have already detailed the provisions for funding assistance to be given to industry personnel to offset any financial fallout. Specifically, attention must be given to small and medium-sized enterprises who may be most affected, as well as for all steps to be taken to ensure the cost is not passed on the consumer.
3) There does not appear to be any consideration given to garbage disposal. Majority of Jamaicans dispose of their garbage in the single-use plastic bags commonly known as “scandal bags” therefore when these are no longer available, it begs the question as to what will happen to these persons and how will they dispose of their garbage. Consequently, it behoves the government to provide with urgency readily available alternative so that we do not end up seeking to resolve one issue but causing another through poor garbage disposal or containerisation.
4) The steps to ensure our ports and points of entry are secured cannot be left unattended. The requisite resources must be made available to fully equip the customs and such other ports to ensure efficient surveillance and detection and sufficient sanction to deter defiance.
The Opposition is also of the view that greater public education must be undertaken to ensure all stakeholders including community-based organisations are fully aware of the requirements of the new policy as well as the alternatives available.