The latest promise by Finance Minister Colm Imbert to institute a ban on styrofoam imports by January 1, 2020, is a step backwards, according to environmentalist Stephen Broadbridge who says the Government has lost all credibility as they continue to procrastinate on environmental issues.
On July 28, 2018, Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis announced that a ban on styrofoam would be enforced in 2019. At that time, Robinson-Regis said a ban on importation of styrofoam was due to start “almost immediately” as it had been approved by Cabinet two weeks before.
During his budget presentation on Monday, Imbert said the ban will come into effect in January 2020.
“They have no credibility now. They can’t keep making promises and breaking them and expect people to believe them,” Broadbridge said.
“I’m not quite sure why they are lagging behind much of the rest of the world. Its been spoken about long enough, its now time to do something. They are well behind schedule and they have pushed it back yet again.”
Broadbridge said he has lost track of all the different dates proposed by Government for the ban. He said whenever a major change is bandied about by political parties, it takes at least ten years before that change is implemented.
As for the ever-moving goalpost of a styrofoam blackout, Broadbridge said consumers need to take measures into their own hands. Styrofoam is non-biodegradable, which means although it may break into tiny pieces, it does not break down completely and it stays in the environment for hundreds of years.
“Consumers need to become more conscientious buyers. If you go to a business place where everything is packaged in styrofoam, go somewhere else, do not support that business. It is not just styrofoam but plastics are well. It is a world problem and Trinidad needs to do our part,” he said.
Broadbridge, vice president of the T&T Incoming Tour Operators Association, said he was dissatisfied with the budget presentation as there were no provisions for tourism.
He said the government seems to have no immediate or future plans for the industry, which has been floundering for some time.