Styrofoam Ban Information
Health and Environment Minister encourages all to embrace the Styrofoam Ban Initiative
Minister of Health and the Environment Molwyn Joseph is encouraging all citizens of Antigua and Barbuda to embrace the Styrofoam Ban Initiative.
He made the appeal during a brief ceremony at an Open-House/Showcase on the Styrofoam Ban Initiative held at 39’ers Square outside the Ministry of Health Headquarters earlier today (Friday).
Minister Joseph called for a more positive outlook among Antiguans and Barbudans.
“The first thing that should come to mind is that if we embrace a mission, you say we are going to succeed and where we have a difficulty, we are going to find a way to overcome those difficulties.”
Minister Joseph said the Ministry’s enthusiasm about this and the previous plastic bag ban initiative is contagious and it encourages everyone, even the pessimists to come on board.
He recalled that there was some negative feedback when the campaign was undertaken to rid the country of T-shirt plastic bags, but the eventual success of that programme speaks volumes.
Minister Joseph said although Styrofoam may appear to be more challenging to get rid of, continuous education about its harmful effects is a victory in and of itself.
‘’So you have your Styrofoam cup, you throw the hot coffee in the Styrofoam cup, then the chemical leeches out in the coffee; you have your food in a Styrofoam container, you take it home, you put it in the refrigerator and you don’t think twice, tomorrow you get up, you put it in the microwave oven and the food warms up nicely, but what you don’t see is the leeching of polystyrene in your chicken and your stew, that’s what’s happening to us, and you ask yourself why are so many of us getting sick with cancer in particular, where is all this cancer coming from, all you have to do is to look around on the way we live, what we consume. We have to begin to eliminate the things that we know cause cancer out our diet and out of the environment. That is what we need to do in Antigua and Barbuda.”
Minister Joseph assured the public that the Ministry technicians did the necessary research to ensure that the substitute products identified are environmentally friendly and will be at no extra cost to the business community.
He said July 1s, 2017t is a big day as on that day the first stage of the Styrofoam ban starts and the customs department will not allow certain Styrofoam food service products to be imported into Antigua and Barbuda.
In this first stage, Styrofoam clamshell, hinge and hotdog containers and all other containers made of EPS (Expanded Polystyrene Styrofoam) to include bowls, plates, hot and cold beverage cups, lids and caps will be banned from entering the country.
Other Styrofoam products not included in the 1st Stage list will be restricted from entry during the 2nd and 3rd Stages of the ban.
‘The Styrofoam ban initiative has also created new economic opportunities for individuals.’
He said the phased-in approach will give business persons some six months to deplete their Styrofoam stock.
“We say to them, over the next six months, whatever inventory you have on hand, we’ll allow you to use up that inventory so you’ll continue to see some of the Styrofoam containers being used because it would not be fair to the business people if we say to them you have to dump your inventory, so we believe six months is a good time to use up your inventory, the same way we handled the plastic bag ban initiative.”
The showcase and open house had a variety of alternative products on display by business people such as AMP Distributors, Frank B. Armstrong, Inter Island Sales and Supplies, Ming’s Ltd and Antigua Packaging.
Minister Joseph said the Styrofoam ban initiative has also created new economic opportunities for individuals.
Two individuals have been sent to sit with government officials in the Ministry of Trade to look at the possibility of making the products right here.
“You know we have created new business people as a result of this; there are more importers now, we even encourage a few business people to approach the government to manufacture these substitute products right here in Antigua. Get the raw material, get some added value and we can get the machine to press them and to cut them so that they can be as good and presentable as they are now.”
He urged citizens to take a holistic approach to good health and not isolate one health issue from the other.
“You must not see Styrofoam as just an isolated initiative, you should not see the fight against sugary drinks as an isolated issue, what we are saying is to look at your entire lifestyle, what your eat, what you drink, how long you sit in front of your television and eat without exercise, the things you use for your convenience…if we can succeed in getting Antiguans and Barbudans to look at their lives holistically and take responsibility for their health, the cost of health care will be reduced and the quality of life improved.”
He lauded the impressive turnout of the youth at the open house and stressed that it’s a great place to start the ball rolling with education and sharing of information. He said eighty percent of deaths in Antigua and Barbuda is not as a result of infectious diseases but of lifestyle habits (non-communicable disease) that need to change.
“Make the switch and avoid the risk.”
Environmental Implementation Officer Indira James, the main coordinator of this morning’s event said the road to this morning’s activities was a long and detailed one.
She said during the research leading up to this stage, she was amazed at what actually existed in the alternative field and she was impressed with the Minister’s vision of getting Antigua and Barbuda on board immediately.
“The products that you see here today are from cardboard and paper, they are from PLA Corn Starch, we also have products made from wheat straw, potato starch, bamboo and areca palm today, and those are the list of approved products.”
She paid gratitude to all the wholesalers and young business individuals who took the time out to research and go forward in the field of entrepreneurship.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and the Environment Walter Christopher said that the open house/showcase was a part of the Government’s continuing roll out of Policies and Programs geared towards making our nation greener and healthier.
“The Ministry’s efforts of seeking alternatives to Expanded Polystyrene and Solid Polystyrene and the utilization of environmentally positive substitutes are all in an effort to reduce the adverse effect on our environment and our health.”
He continued, “Expanded Polystyrene is known to leach the toxin, styrene, when it comes into contact with warm food or drink, alcohol, oils and acid foods, posing a health risk to our people.”
It contributes to costly waste collection and reduction of landfill capacity.
He urged the nation to “Make the switch and avoid the risk.”
Styrofoam Ban Cheat Sheet
The ban on the importation and use of Styrofoam food service products starts July 1st2017, in Antigua and Barbuda.
The ban will be implemented in three stages:
July 1st, 2017 – December 1st, 2017
Ban on importation and use of food service containers to include: clamshell and hinge containers, hotdog containers. ALL other containers made of EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) - bowls, plates, hot and cold beverages cups, lids and caps.
NB: We are encouraging the use of PLA Cornstarch products to replace Plastic PET bowls.
January 1st, 2018 – June 30th, 2018
Ban on importation and use of utensils (plastic spoons, forks, knives and straws), fruit trays, meat trays, vegetable trays and egg cartons.
July 1st, 2018 – January 1st, 2019
Ban on importation and use of ‘naked’ Styrofoam coolers.
There is a 6 month ‘Phasing Out’ period to deplete stock of ‘Banned’ products during each stage… to be followed by monitoring and confiscation if needed.
Other Key Factors:
- The Styrofoam Ban extends to ALL businesses within the food service industry in Antigua and Barbuda, including the catering industry, food vendors, large and small supermarkets and grocery stores.
- Airline Carriers, Private Airline Charters and Passenger Cruise Vessels shall be exempted until further notice.
- All approved alternative products listed in the Styrofoam ban regulations/legislation will be TAX-FREE. TAX – FREE includes no RRC, ABST, duties and levies.
List of Government Approved Alternatives:
Bagasse (sugarcane) – PLA Cornstarch (NON –GMO) – Bamboo – Wheat Straw – Cardboard/Paper – Areca Palm –Potato Starch
Importers of the approved alternatives listed in regulations/legislation must present certificates from manufacturers and accredited labs for verification.
Styrofoam Ban FAQ
Click HERE To Read Q&A
Styrofoam Ban Consultation/Open House
Minister of Environment lauds response to Styrofoam Consultation
Riding the coattails of the successful plastic bag ban initiative launched by the Ministry of Health and the Environment a little under a year ago, the department is taking yet a further step to reduce the carbon footprint which is affecting all countries around the world.
Although Antigua and Barbuda’s contribution to carbon emissions could be considered minuscule, the move to eliminate the environment of polystyrene (Styrofoam) products is timely and essential. In delivering opening remarks, the Minister of Health and the Environment, Molwyn Joseph, pointed this out to the packed audience of vendors and members of the general public who attended a consultation / open house meeting at the Multi-Purpose Centre on Wednesday (June 7th) evening.
Minister Joseph commended the favourable turnout of eager and enthused business representatives, noting that it was indicative of their consciousness about the environment in which they operate.
Relating to the tremendous success of the T-shirt plastic bag ban initiative, Joseph recognized that getting rid of polystyrene (Styrofoam) could be a little more complex as it has many purposes in the food and services industry.
He, however, expressed confidence that the process will be successful and said that consultation with all stakeholders is vital to the entire process, as the Ministry embarks on a multi –staged approach to the ban on the importation and use of Styrofoam.
“We are going to implement a phased process of eliminating polystyrene out of the environment of Antigua and Barbuda,” Minister Joseph emphasized. We are going to eliminate it and it will be replaced by biodegradable alternative containers, cups, forks and spoons. All will be biodegradable. Here it is again that we consulted our business partners. I met with them and they were extremely cooperative to the point that they sometimes were ahead of us in terms of identifying alternatives.
“So the spirit of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda is healthy and rich in terms of looking after our environment. All of you here tonight should appreciate that you as a nation are taking a leading role in the Caribbean on this matter and I anticipate that by the end of 2018, all of you will be able to take credit that Antigua and Barbuda has eliminated the use of polystyrene from the food service industry in Antigua and Barbuda.”
Meanwhile, Joseph said the littering of T-shirt plastic bags has seen a marked decrease since the introduction of the ban last July, but there continue to be scores of polystyrene products being deposited in waterways, open lands and roadsides.
The Health & Environment Minister, Joseph, fresh from the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva, said his international counterparts congratulated him and the nation of Antigua and Barbuda on a job well done in relation to the plastic bag ban initiative.
He said based on the stats so far, Antigua and Barbuda has succeeded in eliminating approximately 90 percent of the plastic bags used in the retail trade.
Over the next few months, the second stage of the plastic bag ban initiative will be implemented. A team from the Ministry will be going to all the villages, visiting grocery and community stores and distributing reusable bags free of cost.
The intention he said is to now bring them on board, as it was somewhat untimely to do so in the early stages with the large supermarkets.
He made it clear that the bags are not for sale.
“These bags are to be distributed free of cost to the customers so that they can reuse them and when they are worn out, we anticipate that they would be willing to pay a two or three dollars.’
Antigua and Barbuda, Minister Joseph beamed, is the first island in the Caribbean to successfully embark on such a project and he heaped praises on the business owners for the important role that they’ve played in the plastic bag ban campaign.
Other presentations were made by Dr. Linroy Christian, a microbiologist and Director of Analytical Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Indira James, the Environmental Implementation Officer in the Ministry of Health and the Environment, and Jennifer Joseph, the Business Development Officer at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).
Christian focused on the detrimental effects that Expanded Polystyrene (the scientific name for Styrofoam) has on human health and the environment.
He shared some pertinent information for those who practice microwaving in Styrofoam containers.
“One thing I would like to say for sure is microwaving in polystyrene containers should never be done and when you microwave it, you start to see it warping and once it starts to distort, you increase the leaching of the chemical.”
According to Dr.Christian, there are two foundations that have actually indicated that styrene, one of the chemicals used in the manufacture of Styrofoam is a possible carcinogen, a substance capable of causing cancer.
“If it’s possible, it could be probable and if more research is done it is quite likely. Are we going to get to the point where it is likely before we take action? Absolutely not! So at this stage, we have to make sure that we take responsible action to limit this product within the food chain and the environment.”
Indira James, Environment Implementation Officer in the Ministry and the main organizer of the consultation / open house also addressed the environmental and health dangers caused by Styrofoam.
She demonstrated the harmful effects that Styrofoam brings to waterways, sea and plant life and she revealed that it takes about 500 years for the product to decompose.
She also gave an enlightened overview of the alternative products – made from sugar cane (bagasse), bamboo, potato starch, wheat straw, areca palm, PLA cornstarch and cardboard/paper, all of them biodegradable, environmentally friendly. She commended the audience for their keen interest shown in the forum and urged them to come on board with the use of the alternatives and to experience the favourable benefits.
The Business Development Officer at the National Solid Waste Management Authority, Jennifer Joseph, informed the audience of the upcoming Composing Project which is being spearheaded by NSWMA in partnership with the Department of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Gilbert Agriculture and Rural Development Center (GARD). The project involves the creation of composting sites which will help with decomposing alternative materials to be used in place of polystyrene.
The first two composting sites will be at the Cooks Sanitary Landfill and the Nursery at the Department of Environment.
Joseph stressed the benefits of composting, of turning waste into topsoil. Reducing the amount of household waste that requires disposal and improving soil structure, texture, aeration and water retention.
She particularly emphasized the need for communities and even households to create and maintain their own composting sites, adding that the Solid Waste Management Authority is eager to assist with training and technical expertise.
The audience posed questions on the cost of the alternative products, avenues for self-development in relation to the alternatives and the timeframe for implementation of the ban.
Minister Joseph assured those in attendance that there should not be any increased costs as the government will waive all taxes on the importation of the approved alternative products.
A main feature of the evening was the display of a number of the alternative products that will replace the polystyrene food service containers and utensils.
The forum was staged two days after the recent observance of World Environment Day – June 5th, which was themed’ Connecting People with Nature.’
The first stage of the ban on importation
Health Ministry outlines steps to make Antigua and Barbuda Styrofoam Free
The Honourable Molwyn Joseph, Minister of Health and the Environment and other Ministry officials met with stakeholders on Thursday 18th May 2017 to outline the steps that will be taken towards the restriction on the importation and use of Styrofoam food service products in Antigua and Barbuda.
The restriction will follow a three-phased process beginning with a public awareness and education campaign which will run until June 30th, 2017.
This will be followed by Phase two (2) which deals the restriction on the importation of Expanded Polystyrene (Styrofoam) food service products. This phase will be separated into three stages with pre-determined start dates.
Phase three (3) of the restriction program will focus on Product Phase Out and there will be six (6) months between each stage for current stocks to be depleted. The product phase out interval will be followed by monitoring and if the need arises, confiscation.
Stage one of the phase two process starts on July 1st, 2017. This stage covers food service products ranging from (clamshells, hinge containers, hot dog containers, and all other EPS containers, bowls, plates and hot and cold beverage cups which will be restricted from entering the ports of Antigua and Barbuda. There will be a six- month interval for the depletion of stock on hand. Stage one ends December 31st, 2017
Stage two commences on January 1st, 2018 and concludes on June 30th, 2018. During this period the Styrofoam importation restrictions will apply to utensils (spoons, forks and knives), fruit trays, meat trays, vegetable trays and egg cartons.
Stage three importation restrictions begin on July 1st, 2018 and ends on January 1st, 2019. This stage covers polystyrene (Styrofoam) coolers.
The restrictions will extend to all businesses within the food service industry to include large and small supermarkets, grocery stores and the catering industry in Antigua and Barbuda.
Legislation and regulations will soon be enacted to lend weight to the restrictions on importation and use of polystyrene products and to the importation of replacement products.
During the meeting, several samples of alternative food service products were presented to the stakeholders and the media.
Minister Joseph said that all alternative products – made of sugarcane (bagasse), PLA cornstarch, wheat straw, bamboo, potato starch, areca palm and cardboard/paper- listed for approval in the legislation will be Tax-Free.
“Cabinet confirms that tax-free means the elimination of RRC, duties, ABST and any associated levy,” said Joseph.
The Minister, however, cautioned businesses that the alternative products must meet the required standards and that the importers of alternatives listed in the regulations/legislation must present certificates from manufacturers and accredited labs for verification.
Joseph noted that airline carriers, private charters and major cruise liners would be exempted until further notice from the Ministry of Health and the Environment.
He further added that the regulations and legislation, due to be finalized by January 2018 will also address penalties for offenders.
He was quick to add however that there was no need to consider penalties associated with the elimination of plastic bags. This he said was highly commendable and lauded the public for its support of the initiative.
The Minister revealed that the plastic bag ban campaign will soon enter the second stage with the distribution of over 60,000 shopping bags to neighborhood and community stores and shops. Each would receive at least 200 bags to be given to their customers.
He also alluded to emerging plans for the creation of a Composting Site to help with decomposing alternate materials to be used in place of polystyrene. To kick-start this program, there are plans in place to secure two (2) acres of land at the Cooks Landfill.
The Health and Environment Minister said that the initiative to make Antigua and Barbuda Styrofoam free along with the ongoing plastic bag ban campaign and the future Composting Site are symbolic of his Ministry’s continuing policies and programs geared at making Antigua and Barbuda cleaner, healthier and safer for generations to come.
He commended Indira James, the Ministry’s Environmental Implementation Officer, Legal Advisor Andrea Jacobs as well as Simone Nicholas and Arica Hill for their invaluable role in the Styrofoam ban initiative.
The stakeholders gathered also used the opportunity to pose questions and share comments, the vast majority of them seeming to be on board with the initiative.
Concern was raised about the possibility of increased food costs based on the introduction of the alternative products but Minister Joseph and other stakeholders said there would hardly be a price hike since importation of the alternative products will be tax-free.
Among the stakeholders who attended yesterday’s meeting were representatives from Horizon’s Supplies, Frank B. Armstrong, Gloria’s Supermarket, A.S Bryden, Gore Global Group, Burger King, Epicurean Fine Foods, Island Provision, Hutchinson Antigua Ltd, Goddard Catering, KFC Antigua Ltd, Customs, Central Board of Health (CBH) and National Solid Waste.