KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) fully supports and is committed to playing its part in the efforts to put measures in place to protect and preserve our environment. The policies and measures employed must be administered in a practical and balanced manner to achieve the desired outcome of a win for the environment while ensuring the sustainability of our local productive sector.
A year has passed, since the implementation of Phase 2 of the Plastic ban, prohibiting the local manufacturing, distribution and use of polystyrene foam (Styrofoam). What was supposed to be a win for Jamaica’s environment has been anything but. To date, the local factory was shut down with over 140 workers made redundant and, during this period, Jamaica has seen a significant increase in the importation of non-biodegradable plastic containers as alternatives to the Styrofoam. Imports of plastic boxes and similar products for the conveyance or packaging of goods, increased from USD$5.12 million in 2019 to USD$12.4 million in 2020. Quantities imported grew from 1063 tons in 2019 to approximately 4,200 tons in 2020. In essence, local Styrofoam production has simply been replaced with foreign plastic alternatives, supporting external economies while the desired environmental impact of the ban has not been achieved. Moreover, promises made to compensate businesses for materials destroyed now appears to be “utterances” rather than commitments; this is a matter we will pursue in the Courts.
As we enter into Phase 3 of the plastic ban, we are reaching out to the various stakeholders to tackle this as partners. A win for the environment is a win for Jamaica and it is a win for all of us. Legislating local producers to meet standards that will not be enforced on imported products is not going to help the economy nor the environment.
The JMEA, therefore, continues to appeal to the Government to engage us and the wider business community as partners as they go about formulating and implementing policies.