Cabinet requested to delay styrofoam ban

Cabinet has been asked to push back the implementing date for the styrofoam ban to 30th June 2020.

The request was confirmed by the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ulu Bismarck Crawley, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.

The ban was initially scheduled to take effect on the last day of January 2020.

But Ulu said the Ministry has had to consider other factors and asked for Cabinet to endorse their request. A decision has yet to be made, he added.

M.N.R.E. had announced in a public notice at the end of 2019 that the importation, sale, distribution or manufacture of styrofoam plates, containers and cups will be banned effective this month.

The notice said styrofoam alternatives had been identified and made available through several local suppliers.

"Thus all importers are reminded to make sure to take [the] utmost note of the effective date of the ban and the Ministry will strictly monitor [...] compliance," the notice read. 

The Waste (Plastic Ban) Management Regulation 2018 was officially endorsed by Cabinet in 2018 to manage the problem of plastic waste in Samoa with a commitment to protect the country’s oceans and marine environment.  

A fine up to $10,000 will be faced by those who fail to comply with the plastic ban.

Earlier in the year, local and small business owners appealed to the Government for more time to sell their remaining stock of styrofoam food containers and cups; others expressed concern that alternatives were more costly. 

Some small local business owners specialising in the sale of takeaway coffee and instant noodles said the changes would reduce their profit margins. 

One of the owners of a shop near the Fugalei Market, Sina Talei, said the ban would make things even harder for them.

“I sell $1.50 coffee and noodles using Styrofoam cups but if they ban enforce the ban I will lose this small profit.

“I wish there were other alternatives that can assist my business but I don’t know where to go from here.”

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