Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, in discussion with BICO Chairman, Edwin Thirlwell following a tour of the company’s ice cream plant and cold storage facility at Harbour Road yesterday. Also pictured is Chief Technical Officer, Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Jacqueline Blackman. (J. Rawlins-Bentham/BGIS)

Government is moving to crack down on importers who continue to flout the law and import banned petroleum-based single-use plastic items.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, stated that banned products were still entering the country and it had to stop.

Mr. Humphrey was speaking on Wednesday, after touring BICO Limited’s ice cream plant and cold storage facility at Harbour Road.  He was accompanied by BICO’s new Chief Executive Officer, Glen Stuart, and other members of the management team, and officials from the Barbados Port Inc. and the Ministry, including Permanent Secretary, Sonia Foster.

“There are many importers now who are trying to flout the legislation and import products that pretend to be biodegradable or compostable, or within the ambit of the law.

“On closer inspection, the containers say very clearly that they are made from a petroleum base.  Some of those are coming into the country and we have to stop it,” he declared.

However, he commended BICO for being “steady and steadfast” in its relationship in ensuring that it abided by the law, and remaining one of the Ministry’s “supporters”, in relation to the ban on petroleum-based single-use plastics, through its Vegware line.

Describing BICO as one of the “greatest allies” and as a company which continued to adhere to the standards, Mr. Humphrey further commended the manufacturer for its use of renewable energy, in using solar panels on the roof and natural gas to fuel the refrigeration.

The Minister added that BICO had a long and established relationship with the Barbados Port Inc., and played an important role in Barbados.

BICO Executive Chairman, Edwin (left) giving Minister Kirk Humphrey; Barbados Port Inc. Chairman, Peter Odle; and officials a tour of the ice cream plant yesterday. (J. Rawlins-Bentham/BGIS)

“The cold storage, especially during the lockdown was full.  It is a million cubic feet and all of it was taken up with storage. This kind of cold storage is very, very important with what we offer as a product in the Port and in Barbados,” Mr. Humphrey said.

He noted that COVID-19 revealed that there were sometimes “unknown, unrecognised players” in the industry, and BICO demonstrated this through its cold storage facility during the shutdown.

The Minister also thanked Executive Chairman of BICO Limited, Edwin Thirlwell, for the tour, stating that the modernisation of the plant and what it offered was of a high quality and met all the necessary standards.

“I think we have to elevate all that we do now to international standards.  This is the epitome of what rising oneself to international standards represents,” he stated.

Mr. Thirlwell disclosed that BICO’s Harbour Road cold storage facility could accommodate everything from vegetables to meat at various temperatures for import and export purposes.

He added that the new ice cream factory features the process of producing ice cream in Barbados from pasteurising and freezing to filling in the automatic filler, where it is blast frozen to retain the quality.

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