April 27, 2016
The Natural Resources Conservation Authority/National Environment and Planning Agency (NRCA/NEPA) yesterday morning discussed the challenges presented by the unregulated use of non-biodegradable plastics and styrofoam and the impact on land and the marine environments.
The meeting took note of the various regional and international interventions, initiatives, responses and economic instruments that have been applied to reduce the use and impact of plastics and styrofoam and arrived at a common position that the time is right for Jamaica to develop and pursue a strategic plan of action to tackle this negative environmental feature as a central feature of the country’s sustainable development path.
In addition to the actions that will be pursued by the government of Jamaica in tackling this matter; the NRCA/NEPA sees a huge role for public action and is convinced that public education initiatives that provide information to support individual actions are key to any successful push-back against the use of plastics and styrofoam. Individual response also includes the right to refuse the purchase and/or use of these non-biodegradable products.
The NRCA/NEPA is of the view that the government regulatory agencies must immediately commence dialogue with local manufacturers of these products and begin to plot a time-bound plan of action for the cessation of production of non-biodegradable products and the placing of alternative solutions on the market.
The NRCA/NEPA also referenced the earlier public private partnership between NEPA, the National Solid Waste Management Authority and other government agencies and departments, as well as members of private sector groups in responding to reduce the use and impact of plastics and styrofoam on the environment. The role played by the environmental non-governmental organizations and civil society groups was also recognized.
The Authority having considered the background to the issues, the challenges presented and the need for strong and decisive intervention supports the position of Government Senator, Matthew Samuda, who plans to table a Private Member’s Motion in the Senate for a ban on the importation of some plastic bags and styrofoam containers.
The NRCA/NEPA is prepared to join Senator Samuda’s initiative with the conditions of engagement earlier outlined. The NRCA/NEPA calls on every citizen of the country and well-wisher to support a reduction in the use of plastics and styrofoam.
According to the NRCA Chairman: “The NRCA shares the revulsion of all Jamaicans at the sight of excessive plastics and styrofoam littering our island and impacting negatively on the land and marine environments,” said Danville Walker, Chairman of the NRCA Board.