A GROUP of local NGOs and businesses today urged the general public to help eliminate styrofoam, a substance they said harms the local environment and which can never be described as biodegradable.
The group said the Ministry of Planning and Development last July said styrofoam will be banned in Trinidad and Tobago in 2019, following bans in Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and St Lucia.
“This was very welcome news, as this non-biodegradable material is a huge contributor to litter, flooding, and harm to marine and wildlife,” said the group said in a press release.
“However, in Trinidad and Tobago, styrofoam manufacturers have been fighting hard against this ban.”
The group said that in stakeholder meetings with the Ministry, manufacturers have painted a very biased picture so as to maintain the status quo and protect their profits, while shutting down those biodegradable alternatives which are taking off now in almost every developed country around the world.
“They have skewed the input of environmentalists, in favour of their own selected data, and have been lobbying the Ministry to amend the ban to allow ‘biodegradable styrofoam,’ claiming that there are certain ‘additives’ that can be used to make styrofoam biodegradable.”
It said this claim is chemically impossible, and it would be a sad mistake and embarrassment for TT if it is approved.
“Multiple international standards have stated clearly that no additive can make Styrofoam biodegradable. The idea of an additive that can conveniently make Styrofoam biodegradable is a dream that manufacturers have taken on, in their hopes of a ‘magic bullet’ to allow them to continue business as usual.”
The group said there exists an environmental crisis around waste, such that by 2050 the ocean is expected to contain more plastic than fish, unless the country changes direction soon. “In Trinidad and Tobago, public petitions have also generated great support where a call to ban styrofoam saw almost 4,000 signatures in 2016, and a more recent petition to Ban Plastic Straws has come close to 15,000.”