Monday, June 17, 2024

Pollution from Plastics regulations go into effect in December 2021

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Minister of Sustainable Development Honourable Orlando Habet said that the deadline for single-use plastic and Styrofoam products in Belize would be December 2021. Habet shared this with the media from Glasgow, Scotland, where he is attending the UN Climate Change Summit. He said his ministry is preparing to enforce the Environment Protection (Pollution from Plastics) Regulations that was signed in January 2020.

The regulations prohibit the manufacturing, importation, and sale of single-use Styrofoam and plastic “clamshells,” single-use Styrofoam and plastic plates, bowls, and cups and lids, single-use plastic forks, knives, spoons, sporks, and cutlery, single-use plastic carrier bags commonly referred to as shopping bags, and single-use plastic drinking straws. Initially, the government had three months to enact the legislation, and manufacturers had six months to end all production of the banned items. The sale of these products was to end within nine months, and the complete phase-out of these products was scheduled for the end of July 2021. An extension was given because of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

However, plastic and Styrofoam products continue to be imported and sold in Belize. The government of the new administration in power is now saying that such legislation will be enforced and there will be no more delays. “We are encouraging those local producers to start producing biodegradable products,” said Habet. For those importing, they are reminded that the products must be biodegradable as well.

In the meantime, many businesses in San Pedro Town are transitioning to biodegradable options, sharing with their customers (locals and tourists) their commitment to the environment. Meanwhile, others continue using single-use plastic products. Plastic products are considered harmful to the environment, potentially affecting the food chain within oceans/rivers. Plastics and Styrofoam do not decompose and linger for years, impacting the natural environment and living organisms.

For more information on how to start preparing for the much-needed eco-friendly products, contact the Department of Environment at telephone number 822-2548/2819.

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