Importers disturbed with time frame to ban Styrofoam use

Environment Minister, Robert Persaud.
Environment Minister, Robert Persaud.

[]As Guyana gears to ban the importation and use of Styrofoam, the importers of the product are concerned with the time frame given to make the transition to an alternative product.

At a stakeholders’ consultation held at Duke Lodge, Kingston Georgetown on Monday, November 18, one importer of Styrofoam products expressed his concern about the issue and requested that the Environment Ministry review the six months time frame before the ban is instituted in June 2014.

However, Minister with responsibility for the Environment, Robert Persaud said that the ministry will not review the time frame, but is willing to provide representation on a case by case basis to those importers with inventory.

The very time frame issue was also raised by President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Clinton Urling, who during his remarks at the consultation, implored on Minister Persaud to implement a robust public education campaign and to allot enough time to the food industry for a smooth transition into the use of the alternative products.

From the onset, Urling made it clear that the ban of the product will not have any significant impact on the livelihood of anyone, since Guyana is not a producer of it.

“They are all imported, so from an industry standpoint, there is not much to lose if it is banned,” Urling told stakeholders.

However, he explained that the food industry will be affected but he urged them to make the necessary adjustments and adaptations. In reference to German’s Restaurant, which he owns, Urling noted that he has already phased out the use of Styrofoam and is currently utilizing paper – based biodegradable products, which he has imported.

“The transition has been smooth and I have been able to get the alternative at a cheap price,” the GCCI President said.

Urling also pointed out that banning the importation and use of the product, will in no way reduce the garbage situation facing the city. According to him, citizens need to change their attitude of handling litter.

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Robert Persaud agreed with Urling that educating the public on the issue is important, however, Persaud called on the Private Sector to provide assistance in this regard.

Persaud commended those businesses which have already phased out the use of Styrofoam and is encouraging the Guyanese population to support those businesses.

The Minister also touched on the plastic bottles/bag issue and noted that the government has tried to tackle its use. He explained that discussions were held with the two beverage companies for several months.

According to Minister Persaud, it is all part of a comprehensive plan to effectively manage the environment.



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