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Department of Environment moves ahead with phasing out plastics and Styrofoam

In 2017, an assessment was done that showed that in a course of three years, Belize imported over two hundred million pieces of single use plastic bags and fifty two million pieces of Styrofoam and plastic food containers while producting about five million pieces of Styrofoam and thirty five million single use plastic bags.  It is a quite a hefty weight on the environment which officials seek to minimize and eventually eliminate.  As at April 22, 2019, the importation of these products will no longer be allowed.  Maxine Monsanto, Environmental Officer, spoke to our news team on the way forward when it comes to these harmful materials to our environment.

Maxine Monsanto, Environmental Officer: “When they read the legislation some stakeholders may suggest because legislation has like fines and penalties. Some one may say in their opinion that the fine is too low or the fine is to high. That is a potential comment that they can put in. At the bottom of the sheet itself it has general, technical and editorial. A general comment could just be a general statement on the document, regulation or a component within it. A technical comment I would think would come from our manufacturers, importers or our Customs Brokers who look at the time frame and they question if they need to expand or if it can it be done less something like that. An editorial comment I think is self explanatory, if commas are missing or spelling corrections or something like that. This is a step in the legislation development. What happens when the comments are all received? They are compiled and reviewed by the technical committee. Basically the task force will go through them and see their applicability then determine whether or not the comment has some validity and then make requests for improvements on the draft legislation itself. If the stakeholders feel or the public feels that there is no need to change anything then it can go straight forward. There is a recommendation for a change and we can look at that specifically based on what they write in the comment sheet and then make a determination. The Ministry of Trade is doing its work in developing activities for the Green Production. The Bureau of Standards has started the coordination of the standard development through the committee and the Department of Environment is expected to launch its media campaign I believe next week so the other components are moving ahead.”

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