(CMC) – The Jamaica government is to launch an educational campaign surrounding the impending ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of specific categories of plastic packaging materials.
“There is nothing that the government has banned that does not already have existing alternatives in the marketplace; it would be improper of the Government to push one alternative versus another.
“I think, through the public education campaign, it will come out as to the varying alternatives that are there,” according to the Government legislator, Matthew Samuda.
He told the Senate that the campaign will, among other things, highlight alternative packaging materials.
The ban, which starts January 1, 2019, relates to single-use plastic carrier/shopping bags; expanded polystyrene foam, commonly referred to as styrofoam; and plastic drinking straws.
It does not apply to bags used to maintain public health or food-safety standards, such as those utilised to package raw meats; flour; sugar; rice and baked goods, such as bread.
Samuda said that discussions are being held with local companies regarding funding to retool their operations in order to manufacture more environmentally safe products.
“It is really… five or six companies that are to be affected.” he said, noting that the Opposition will be kept informed about the developments.
Senate President, Tom Tavares-Finson, called on Jamaicans to play their part in ensuring that the ban is successful.
“Regardless of what the Government does, its success will be measured by virtue of the citizen’s buy-in to the programme and… [recognition of] the deleterious effect of plastics on the environment,” he said, adding “when you go to the supermarket, complain to the supermarket that you do not want the plastic bags that they are giving you, likewise at your restaurants”.