GOB reaffirms its commitment to phase out single-use plastic and Styrofoam products by April 2019 amid allegations of a possible delay

Friday, February 15th, 2019

The Investment Policy and Compliance Unit (IPCU) within the Ministry responsible for Investment, Trade and Commerce have ruled out any allegations contradicting the start of a nationwide ban on single-use plastic and Styrofoam products on April 22, 2019. Concerned citizens have alleged that the banning would be delayed because the Government of Belize (GOB) would not provide any incentives to investors interested in manufacturing and supplying biodegradable items in the country. However, personnel from the IPCU told The San Pedro Sun that such information was inaccurate, as they are working on a package of incentives that will be made available to investors, particularly the small businesses interested in this new line of environmentally friendly products.
The IPCU indicated that there will be zero tariffs to businesses that import biodegradable items. They stated that the transition from non-biodegradable products will be slow, and eventually eradicating all plastic and Styrofoam. The IPCU stressed that they will encourage and support everyone that wants to be part of this worthy initiative. They further claim to be organizing the different phases the project will take for it to be a success.
The phase-out period commencing on April 22nd will start with a restriction on the importation of single-use plastic bags, utensils, straws and Styrofoam products, as well as inputs for its manufacturing. At the same time, GOB will establish clear minimum criteria and specifications on the biodegradable products that will be allowed into and/or manufactured in the country. There will also be an exemption from import taxes on inputs, machinery, and equipment for the production of these new items. This exemption will be for two years, with special procedures to apply for development concession.
The program will also focus on establishing local standards in order to promote regional standards of the biodegradable products. A local testing facility in Belize is expected to be built by 2021 to ascertain that the products are up to standards. In the next two years, after the transition begins, the program will also push for Belizean companies to export biodegradable products once supply and demand has been determined for Belize. According to the IPCU, the final aim is to assist and facilitate the development of a biodegradable goods industry, which would be based on local inputs. This would not only benefit Belize economically but also assist the country to properly manage its solid waste and consolidate its international image as an eco-friendly nation.
GOB’s decision to phase out non-biodegradable products has been welcomed by the Belizeans nationwide. On Ambergris Caye, several businesses have already commenced the transition, and many restaurants and cafes are beginning to replace their plastics and Styrofoam items for biodegradable products.

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