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Businesses uncertain about implementation of plastics ban

William Mahfood and Island Grill CEO Thalia Lyn
 
There is growing uncertainty among business operators about the  implementation of the impending ban on certain plastics. 
 
Come January 1, the ban will apply to the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of single-use plastic bags, plastic straws and styrofoam products.
 
William Mahfood, Chairman of Wisynco Group, says the authorities have failed to effectively communicate with business operators about the impending ban. 
 
Wisynco, which manufactures straws and styrofoam, says it has faced several obstacles in getting information as it seeks to become compliant.
 
Mr. Mahfood says the company has applied to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) for an extension to finish its raw material used for manufacturing plastic straws. 
 
"Every time we speak to them (NEPA), they tell us we have to speak to the ministry. So there has been some confusion because companies who are in manufactoring who have raw materials that they imported from a year ago, I think it is ridiculous to ask them to dump the raw materials and their packaging," he argued. 
 
Mr. Mahfood said the three-month period for the implementation of the ban was not practical since all was not in place to ensure a smooth transition. 
 
However, when asked whether the Government should push back the implementation date for the ban, Mr. Mahfood said no, noting that this would be an embarrassment.
 
Mr. Mahfood said the Government should ensure that persons and businesses are adequately informed about the specifics so they do not breach the ban.
 
Government Senator Matthew Samuda has said two ministerial orders are to be signed shortly, which carry a fine of up to $2 million or a maximum of two years' imprisonment for lawbreakers.  
        
Mr. Mahfood said Wisynco will continue to manufacture styrofoam until 2020, since the January 1 ban will only encompass straws, plastic bags and imported styrofoam. 
 
Meanwhile, given the implication the ban on single-use plastics has for fast food companies, one chain of restaurants is getting ready. 
 
Thalia Lyn, Chief Executive Officer of Island Grill, said her company will be compliant with the ban.
 
Ms Lyn said Island Grill's main challenge at this time is stocking strong replacement paper straws and bags.
 
She said good quality straws ordered from overseas will not arrive until mid-January, while the company has not yet settled on the bags. 
 
Ms Lyn said, as a measure to reduce the use of straws, Island Grill restaurants will only offer them when requested by the customer.
 
The Island Grill CEO said she has been trying without success to get the National Environment and Planning Agency's advice on what to do with the company's stock of plastic straws and scandal bags.
 
According to Ms Lyn, the company has about three month's supply of plastic bags and one month's supply of straws. 
 


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