MINISTER without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz says the ban on plastic will allow for the creation of new investment opportunities.
The ban, which starts January 1, 2019, affects the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of single-use plastic carrier/shopping bags; expanded polystyrene foam, commonly referred to as styrofoam; and plastic drinking straws.
Minister Vaz, who was speaking at a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank, said that new jobs and businesses can be generated through the manufacture of plastic alternatives, and this could give rise to a new industry.
“I am very optimistic in terms of alternative packaging and the business opportunities that are going to come out of this for entrepreneurs,” he pointed out, noting that many persons are already looking at business prospects.
He shared that discussions are being held with the EXIM Bank and the Development Bank of Jamaica regarding the provision of financial support for businesses seeking to restructure their operations to comply with the plastic ban.
Senator Matthew Samuda, who also spoke during the session, said that the framework exists for manufacturers to take advantage of what is a national and regional opportunity.
He commended the work being done by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries to develop the bamboo industry and explore ways in which the product can be utilised in satisfying the demand for plastic alternatives.
“A lot of concessions are made to registered manufacturers in regard to how they bring in equipment — especially if they do so under the free zone legislation, as a lot of these [alternatives to plastic] can be packaged for our Caribbean neighbours,” Senator Samuda pointed out.
Under the legislation, approved free zone enterprises can benefit from duty-free imports on raw materials for use in manufacturing.