Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Letter of the Day | Clarity on plastic, styrofoam ban

Published:Saturday | November 10, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

First, I wish to acknowledge The Gleaner's continued support of the policy initiative announced by the Government of Jamaica on September 17, 2018.

The policy announcement related to the banning of three plastic packaging materials on a phased basis: specifically, single-use plastic bags below 24x24 inches, styrofoam packaging for food and beverages, and plastic straws, with limited exemptions. This announcement has met with support nationally and internationally from the majority of stakeholders.

It's a strong policy that sends the signal to the country that the Government is concerned about environmental degradation, caused by solid waste and, more important, is prepared to act. This is the first of many policy directives to come (including a policy for PET bottles).

I, however, do feel the need to add clarity to assertions made in the editorial published on Wednesday, November 7, 2018. As it relates to the fines for breaches of the ministerial order, this

very newspaper has already printed previously the fines on September 20, 2018. The fines as allowed under the Trade Act Section 13 C are up to J$2 million.

Unfortunately, any confusion regarding the required legislation was due to what I view as the misrepresentation from The Gleaner in its initial coverage of the announcement of the ban. As the editorial noted, this motion was passed in the Senate in 2016.

Planning and consultation have been on in earnest since then. The Government has been in constant dialogue with industry stakeholders who will be affected. Surely, two years of consultation must be sufficient.

 

INFORMATIVE CAMPAIGN

 

The public education campaign aimed at sensitising the broader public as to details of the ban and available alternatives will commence on Sunday, November 11. This campaign will involve above- and below-the-line marketing programmes. These include placements in traditional media (TV, radio, and newspaper), along with a digital media campaign.

The Government will partner with local government agencies and authorities to make presentations at citizen meetings and town halls nationally. Culture will not change overnight. However, this is a far gentler implementation period when one compares this action to those of some of our Caribbean and African neighbours.

I wish to thank The Gleaner for the continued focus on this all-important issue.

MATTHEW SAMUDA

Government Senator