March 20, 2023

TCI: Cabinet approves styrofoam ban

from The Sun TCI

Styrofoam containers

Cabinet approved on May 29th 2019 a Ban on Polystyrenes, a policy paper put forward as part of the ongoing going green for 2019 initiatives to clean up our islands, reduce waste and encourage sustainable alternatives. The policy aims to reduce the use and importation of some polystyrene products: cups and plates and will also officially ban the use and importation of plastic straws.

Polystyrene is another type of plastic. It can be expanded by air into the foam material that we all know as “Styrofoam”. It is often used for packaging fragile products, or insulating hot food and beverages.

Along with plastic bags and other plastic material, Styrofoam – a type of polystyrene – is one of the biggest contributors to land and marine litter here in the Turks and Caicos Islands. These plastics subsequently end up in the ocean where it is broken down into smaller pieces called Micro-plastics that are ingested by marine life. In the Turks and Caicos Islands seafood largely consumed, fish that have ingested plastics are then introduced into the food chain and could be detrimental to human health.

Lightweight Styrofoam is also easily carried away by wind and often ends up littering the streets, beaches, clogging storm drainage, and can harm animals.

The main component of Styrofoam is styrene which is classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO)as a carcinogen – material that can cause cancer. It also contains harmful chemicals that can contaminate our food and drink. Recent research suggests that the consumption of Styrofoam could lead to serious health effects.

Polystyrene materials that end up in landfill release methane gases that have over twenty (20) times the ozone destroying potency as Carbon Dioxide, ultimately contributing to Climate Change.

Along with the regulations on the use and importation of Styrofoam, Polystyrenes and plastic straws, the upcoming ban will also outline a list of alternatives and reduced tariffs for the importation of those alternative items.

It is the vision of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government and the Climate Change Committee to reduce TCI’s contribution to Global Warming; to reduce the health risks that are connected to the consumption of micro-plastics and other harmful materials and to ensure that the country remains beautiful by nature and clean by choice.

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