High cost concern

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey says he is concerned about the high cost of some of the eco-friendly food-grade products available on the local market.

He made the comments after touring COT Holdings at Newton Industrial Estate, Christ Church, stating that it is imperative that a way is found to reduce the cost of the inputs so that the products can be sold more competitively.

“Some of the costs that you see on some of these items are not in sync with what they have had to pay, so that what you see reflected as the final price has no bearing to the ban that we have put on single use plastics. I have said before and I am saying it now, we have persons in Barbados, the corporate companies [who] have a responsibility to engage in practices that are in sync with Barbadian values,” he said.

He continued, “There is an ethical kind of behaviour that should bind all of us.”

Minister Humphrey said in the process of some of his ministry’s investigations, when the cost of the containers and the selling price were compared, “it was insane”, hinting that the latter was extremely high. With that in mind, he said they have also heard that there are some persons who are attempting to sell the banned single use plastics quietly, despite the fact that it is illegal to do so.

“Now that for me is a no, no. Now I am giving another warning, which is now the last and I think that I have already instructed that we send letters reminding people what the law says, but this is the final warning. I think it has gotten to the point where you are very, very, very aware of what the legislation says, you also understand the damage that you are doing, but you are now making a deliberate attempt to do so for profiteering purposes. That is not going to work for us,” he maintained.

The Minister’s comments came as he said that overall the ban on plastics is moving well, with support from the public in general, but he admitted that there are still some kinks to work out. Meanwhile, turning his attention to the pending April 1, 2020 ban to be imposed on petro-based single-use plastic bags, he said there will be no further extension on that date.

“We extended that for three months only because the manufacturers had asked me to do so, to give them the opportunity to make those plastic bags from that resin and we have done so. The point was that at the time we were about to implement the ban, the resin was not available on the international market, it was just gone, because the world had suddenly determined this is the way it is going, and it didn’t even have the capacity to respond at the time,” he said.

Asked about the continued use of Styrofoam trays for the poultry industry, the minister said in time those trays will also be banned. To that end, he said that consumers will have to adapt to the change.

“I know Chickmont has put out a chicken and meat in a bag that is vacuum sealed, where they use absolutely no styrofoam at all, and the more I can see persons making this adjustment, then eventually I will be able to pull styrofoam [trays] off that list of things to be allowed too,” he said. (JRT)

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