Belize is well on its way to phasing out Styrofoam and plastics and moving into the use of biodegradable products. Supporting the legislation for environmental protection that came into force on January 15, 2020, are members of the private sector and environmental stakeholders. These groups are currently in meeting sessions at the Biltmore discussing the transition process and the biodegradable standards. As explained by the Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of the Environment, Percival Cho, these meetings will result in additional legislation once a standard is agreed upon.
Percival Cho, CEO, Ministry of Environment: “As you know the legislation was passed a few weeks ago. What that currently says in terms of what it means to be biodegradable is that the definition not withstanding at the moment because we’re developing yet, we’re going to put in place an interim definition which is that 50% of the material that is used to make these products have to be from a plant based source so 50% biobase, that is the standard at the moment. In the law we placed a provision that a full set of standards including levels of biodegradability and types of biodegradability will be developed and so that process has been on going. Today that workshop is another step in the process so we’re on a timeline to develop these standards with a few months time.”
According to CEO Cho, they are working with a deadline and are focused on setting the standard not only for the products but also for the businesspersons who are looking to venture into the sale of biodegradable materials. The deadline, according to Cho, has to do with the one-year limit set as the phasing out period.
Percival Cho, CEO, Ministry of Environment: The hope for us is that there is improved understanding of what we are going to strive towards so that the private sector and us have a common knowledge of where the country is going given the legislation that has been passed. I think once we’re on the same page with that I think the discussion and the process becomes more simplified for all parties involved because we’ll have a common understanding and a level playing field so that all the companies understand that if they need to import a certain product or promote it on the market they know it will already meet the standards given their understanding of what the standards are.
The three-day workshop, which began yesterday is being hosted by the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS) and the Department of Environment. The workshop presentations are being done by Dr. Kelvin Okamoto, Green Bottom Line Inc. who is a professional consultant from the USA.