KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaica government says a ban will be imposed on the use of plastic lunch boxes, effective December 31, this year, as efforts continue to shift to more sustainable options.
Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Matthew Samuda, said that the elimination of lunch boxes will represent an extension of the existing ban on single-use plastic items that was implemented in 2019.
“We made the initial change as it related to Styrofoam; there was a wave of recycled paper alternatives in the market then. Obviously, smart businessmen found another plastic solution that I would say went around the policy intent,” he added.
Samuda said that with the extension of the banned items, the intention is to “close that loophole, because it was certainly not intended (for Styrofoam) to be replaced by Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)”.
While PET is a better material compared to Styrofoam, it is still not the most suitable material to be used.
“We want recycled paper-based solutions as our lunch boxes,” said Samuda, noting that to help alleviate some of the solid waste issues affecting Jamaica, the ban will also include personal care products that have microplastics in them.
“There are some skews or variants of deodorants and facial soaps that have plastic beads in them that are deleterious to human and marine health. There is no sewage-based system on Earth that would extract these plastic beads before they are put out into the environment. So, we are looking at the items that can be removed from our waste stream,” Samuda said.
“Every step towards environmental protection and restoration, where needed, is a good step towards Vision 2030 and, practically, it is a step towards us not having to explain to our children, in an embarrassed manner when we are older, why we didn’t take particular steps,” he added.