- Published on Friday, 05 February 2016 12:18
- Written by EPAadmin
- Hits: 3118
WHAT IS STYROFOAM?
Polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer. Most people know it under the name Styrofoam, which is actually the trade name of a polystyrene foam product used for housing insulation. Polystyrene is a light-weight material, about 95% air, with very good insulation properties and is used in all types of products from cups that keep your beverages hot or cold to packaging material that keep your computers safe during shipping.
Expanded polystyrene food service products which are the focus of the ban means containers, plates, hot and cold beverage cups, meat and vegetable trays, egg cartons, and other products, made of expanded polystyrene and used for selling or providing food for consumption on or off premises.
WHY DO WE NEED TO BAN STYROFOAM?
- Expanded polystyrene takes more than 500 years to biodegrade, and because of its lightweight nature can easily travel through gutters, storm drains, or in the wind, and reach the ocean.
- In the marine environment, polystyrene breaks down into smaller articles that are ingested by wildlife causing suffocation.
- Polystyrene contains toxic chemicals that leach into hot foods and beverages posing serious threats to human health, including respiratory illnesses and cancer.
- In most cities and counties, polystyrene cannot be recycled and is never compostable.
- Polystyrene is not recyclable in Guyana, costing millions to clear from drains, alleyways, and roadways.
- Alternatives made from recycled content cardboard and compostable/biodegradable materials are readily available.
- The ban on Styrofoam also represents our country’s commitment towards a green economy.
IS A BAN ON STYROFOAM GOING TO STOP PEOPLE FROM LITTERING?
No; it is expected however that the volume of litter will be significantly reduced given that the alternative will biodegrade or break down after a specified time. Additionally, the EPA continues to enforce the Litter Regulations along with conducting education and awareness programmes to help change attitudes towards littering.
WHICH AGENCY WILL BE ENFORCING THE BAN?
The Environmental Protection Agency is the official enforcement body for the Ban. Key partners in the implementation of the Ban include the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Institute of Applied Science and Technology, the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, the Private Sector Commission.
HOW WILL THE BAN BE ENFORCED?
As of January 01, 2016, the Guyana Revenue Authority will not be processing any declarations for persons wishing to import Styrofoam food containers.
WHAT ABOUT BUSINESSES THAT HAVE STYROFOAM IN STOCK?
A grace period of three (3) months has been given for businesses/ individuals to be rid of Styrofoam stock.
WHAT ARE THE FINES/PENALTIES ATTACHED?
The Regulations state that:
P III 5. (1) The importation, manufacture, sale or offer for sale of expanded polystyrene products in Guyana is hereby prohibited.
(2) Any person or entity found to be in contravention of Regulation 5 (1) shall be liable upon summary conviction to a fine of no less than fifty thousand dollars.
6. (1) No food service establishment shall sell or provide for consumption, either on or off the said establishment’s premises, in expanded polystyrene food service products.
(2) The provisions of Regulation 6(1) shall not apply to prepackaged food that a food service establishment sells or otherwise provides for consumption in expanded polystyrene containers that have been filled and sealed prior to receipt by the food service establishment.
7. Any food service establishment found to be in contravention of Regulations 6(1) shall-
(a) be issued a written warning prohibiting the said establishment from selling or providing food for consumption, either on or off the said establishment’s premises, in expanded polystyrene food service products for consumption on or off premises by a prescribed date; or
(b) face summary jurisdiction proceedings and be liable upon summary conviction to a fine of no less than one hundred thousand dollars.
ARE THERE ANY HEALTH IMPACTS FROM USING ALTERNATIVES TO STYROFOAM?
There are no known health implications from using biodegradable alternatives.
There has been a quote in the newspapers from the Natural Resources Minister about a three months waiver. What does it mean?
The waiver on the importation on Styrofoam food products is simply for a three -month period (January to March, 2016) during which all import declarations for food service Styrofoam containers, made prior to January 01, 2016, will be processed by the Customs and Excise Department of the Guyana Revenue Authority. The waiver ends on March 31, 2016.
Can I still buy and use Styrofoam food boxes and other food containers?
The ban is currently enforced with regards to only the importation of Styrofoam food service containers and Styrofoam materials for the purposes of manufacturing (molding) of food containers and not on the use of food service containers that is already in country. The EPA is currently preparing to conduct an audit of stocks of Styrofoam food service containers imported and manufactured in country to determine the quantity existing and the estimated period for consumption. This information will allow for determination on the effective date for full enforcement of the ban, including usage. At this time, use of Styrofoam food service containers is not prohibited. The ban on the importation and manufacture of Styrofoam applies to food containers, plates, hot and cold beverage cups, meat and vegetable trays, egg cartoons, and other products made of expanded polystyrene. It does not apply to pre- packaged food.
Will there be any tax reduction on biodegradable food containers?
To cushion the expected increase in cost of alternative food service containers, the Ministry of Natural Resources has requested that tax incentives be considered by the Ministry of Finance.