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Government postpones styrofoam ban

The Government has deferred enforcing a nationwide ban on the use of styrofoam plates and cups due to the coronavirus [COVID-19] global pandemic.

This was confirmed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment [M.N.R.E.] on Wednesday.

The Ministry advised that the ban’s postponement was the result of the “economic impact” of COVID-19.

“Due to the economical impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the public is hereby advised that the ban on styrofoam plates and cups is now postponed until further notice,” states the public notice. 

“The public will be duly notified of the new effective date in due course. All businesses and suppliers are strongly reminded that importation of these items is strictly prohibited except for selling and distribution. 

“Suppliers are strongly advised to import identified alternatives [paper plates and cups]. The public will be duly notified of the new effective date in due course.

“The Ministry apologises for the inconvenience this may cause and your understanding and support will be much appreciated.”

The public notice was signed by the M.N.R.E. Chief Executive Officer, Ulu Bismarck Crawley.

But the decision by the Government to postpone the ban is a worry for the Samoa Conservation Society Vice President, James Atherton.

In a telephone interview with the Samoa Observer, Mr Atherton said that while they support the Government’s decision, the ban’s continued postponement could have ramifications for Samoa’s environment.

“There is always a solution to anything and so though we support the Government ban,” he said. “It’s a tricky one because we’re in the middle of the state of emergency, and obviously there are people that have been impacted by this [the ban] but I just hope that they don’t keep postponing it.

“I worry that they’re just going to keep postponing it and that’s not good for the environment. We’re on the right track and we just keep moving so we support it and we continue to support it, we’re concerned about the land and we understand that there may be good reasons for that.”

The ban on the importing and sale and distribution of styrofoam plates and cups was scheduled to go into effect from July 1, 2020 prior to the Government's decision to put it on halt.

Fines for businesses who fail to abide by the ban can run to $10,000 for businesses and $5,000 for individuals or up to six months imprisonment. 

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