As the country readies for a January 1 ban on Styrofoam containers, Government has assured that those who have stocks in hand and are on the way to Guyana, will be given a three-month grace period.
The ban, in the making for a number of years now, was announced a few months ago by Government.
According to Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, regulations were laid in the National Assembly last Thursday and will come into effect from January 1.
“All those who have stock in hand or even ordered containers that are being shipped, will be given a grace period of about three months, but after that we close off,” he confirmed.
”We want to be reasonable and to work with the importers and users to ensure a smooth transition. An event was held earlier in the month between EPA and Private Sector Commission so we are working with the latter.”
Yesterday, following a report of Kaieteur News of ban on importation, importers expressed worry of stocks on hand and wanted clarifications.
Government said that Styrofoam, popular in food establishments, is posing a serious health and garbage problem. The government is pushing for bio-degradable products.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Caribbean Containers Inc. (CCI), Patricia Bacchus, confirmed an increase in sales of its bio-degradable line of imported food boxes and cups.
The company had moved since 2012 to bring in the products following announcements that Styrofoam products would be banned from being imported and use in the country.
“We expect to see a rise in the sales next year. There is nothing astronomical as yet, but we have been seeing a rise,” the executive said.
The ban is expected to affect several importers and food establishments which have been depending on the boxes and containers as a cheap alternative to food containers.
The ban has been in the making for a number of years now with the deadline pushed back time and again.
Government has gazetted subsidiary regulations: The Environmental Protection (Expanded Polystyrene Ban) Regulations.
The legislations explained that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be the entity to implement the ban with Syrofoam-made food containers, plates, hot and cold beverage cups, meat and vegetable trays and egg cartons to be prohibited from being imported, manufactured or distributed locally.
The legislations when it comes into effect, after the first quarter, will apply to all food service establishments operating in Guyana.
The legislations make it clear that any person or entity found to be in contravention (importation or manufacturing) could face fines of no less than $50,000.
Guilty food establishments found possessing and selling food in the Styrofoam containers will be served warning them, and could face fines from a summary conviction upwards of $100,000.
EPA or authorized persons from the Director of Public Prosecutions can bring prosecutions in a court of summary jurisdiction, the gazetted legislations said.
EPA is expected to work with stakeholders to promote use of recyclable, biodegradable and other environmentally friendly products, it was recommended.
In recent months, Government has been pushing for especially bio-degradable containers as an alternative for Styrofoam.
Earlier this month, at Square of the Revolution, Georgetown, there was a public awareness session ahead of the January 1st ban.
The EPA will collaborate with the Ministries of Legal Affairs and Finance, via the Guyana Revenue Authority, to implement the Styrofoam ban. Importers yesterday said they were concerned about some of the reasons being given by Government about the banning.
They said that there is no clarity on what mechanism will be used by authorities to ensure food boxes allowed in the country meet the standards of being termed “bio-degradable”.
With plastic not being banned and worse than Styrofoam, importers warned that serious considerations have to be taken on the issue.
With one bale of Styrofoam food boxes wholesaling for $3,000, bio-degradable food containers are reportedly going to cost importers more- at least $4,000 to have it landed here.
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