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J'cans weigh in on plastic ban

Published:Thursday | August 24, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr
A call is being made for a ban on non-biodegradable plastic packaging material.

A flood of last-minute informed responses will mean more work for the multi-stakeholder working group on Public Feedback on Plastic Packaging Materials, but Chairman Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr welcomes the additional workload, ahead of today's deadline for submissions.

"The range of responses has been so great that I now need to figure out how to quantify this, but when people write free-form stuff, it's a different analytical process, but it was really, really good responses - lots of interesting things I never saw before," Lyew-Ayee Jr told The Gleaner yesterday.

He credited the newspaper's story headlined 'Government wants public input on plastic ban' published on Thursday, August 17 for the avalanche of responses.

"We've sent out some online surveys a couple months ago, so we've got feedback that way. But I feel that we should also get some written commentary from the general public as well so that we can get a more fleshed-out discussions because what happens is that in a survey, you just get some canned answers - A, B, C - whereas the issue is more complex than that,' he said at the time.




The response to his call for more Jamaicans to get involved in contributing to the deliberations caught Lyew-Ayee Jr off-guard, but was welcomed, he insisted.

He noted, "We cannot write policy on one person's recommendation, so we have to try to figure it out, but it looks like we are making progress now. The deadline is tomorrow (today), and then the committee meets for the penultimate time next week to review these stuff. Then after next week's meeting, we will write the recommendation. So we are on track."

The final report to be submitted to the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation was born from a private member's motion by Senator Matthew Samuda last year, calling for a ban on non-biodegradable plastic packaging material.

After reviewing the committee's report, the portfolio (environment) minister may either issue orders bringing into effect the recommendations or take legislation to Parliament. Samuda is optimistic that the findings will inform the establishment of an organisation to oversee the introduction of the ban and alternatives such as biodegradable bags and cardboard.