The pleas of vendors and retailers for an extension to the deadline for the ban of single use petro-based plastics in Barbados have been answered.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, on Thursday night announced that vendors and retailers will now have until July 1, to use their existing stock, while the ban on the importation of the products will remain April 1, as planned. In addition, the January 1, 2020 ban on all petro-based plastic bags also remains in effect.
The Minister was speaking during the debate on the Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in Parliament.
The ban will see products such as petro-based single-use plastic cups; cutlery including plastic knives, forks and spoons; stirrers; straws; plates; egg trays (both plastic and Styrofoam); and Styrofoam containers used in the culinary retail industry being prohibited.
Mr. Humphrey noted that while the original intention was to ban all plastics, government heard the concerns of those in the chicken and manufacturing industries and made the necessary adjustments.
He explained that after the announcement was made in September 2018 by the Prime Minister, his ministry held consultations with key stakeholders, including importers who stated that they would need six months to get rid of their existing stock.
As a result, he said the date for the ban was delayed from January 1, 2019, until April 1, on their recommendation.
“Now many vendors are telling us that April 1, 2019 is too soon for them, and that we make adjustments for people…. We are making adjustments to accommodate the vendors who in many cases find themselves stuck with a lot of Styrofoam,” the minister said.
But, he stated, the new July 1 deadline was “it”. “We have gone as far as we could go to accommodate everybody,” Mr. Humphrey said.
The minister said he did not “feel good” knowing that there were vendors with Styrofoam because they bought it legitimately under the impression that they could still use it after April 1.
“Three more months is not going to kill us, but will do a lot for the poor people who still have to deal with the Styrofoam.
“But after July 1, single use plastics of petroleum base will not be allowed in Barbados because we have to protect the marine environment that we all love very much,” Mr. Humphrey stated.