Ban on single-use plastics part of long-term strategy to cut pollution – EPA Head

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The ban on single-use plastics in Guyana has been under consideration since 2020 but according to the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Khemraj Parsram, it could be part of a long-term strategy to manage pollution.

Single-use plastics or disposable plastics, as the name suggests, are used only once before they are disposed and include items like plastic bags, straws, soda and water bottles, and most styrofoam food packaging.

According to the United Nations (UN), the chemicals in plastics can radically change the normal functioning of our hormones with microplastics posing threats to coastal communities where marine species are the main food.

Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency Khemraj Parsram

Plastic is comprised of polymers, mainly from oil and natural gas and is a huge driver of global warming.

And since last year, the EPA had been gearing up to introduce the ban, with several public consultations held relating to the availability of alternatives to single-use plastics and timelines for implementation.

But now, the EPA Head related that the agency is looking to revise its strategy.

“There was talk about the ban, but we are saying you know what, we just cannot jump to a ban. There are other measures that could be put in place so we are now really looking at our strategy,” Parsram told the News Room.

Guyana has subscribed to the obligations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) along with other international commitments, the EPA Head noted. But the overarching issue is not the ban on single-use plastics but “managing pollution”.

“We have the Environmental Protection Act, we have the prevention regulations, and then we have to ban Styrofoam, so we have the legislative framework in place.

“We can identify places where we want to address the problem of the discharge and littering of plastics and other garbage waste into the environment.

“And once we do that, I do not think we necessarily have to go to a ban, but that can be part and parcel of the long term strategy so we are now reviewing and developing a strategy to see how we comprehensively deal with waste,” he explained.

The EPA is in talks with other stakeholders, including the private sector, to craft the strategy. More public consultations can also be expected, Parsram said.

“We need to bring everybody into the game so that we together we can execute this and hopefully in the long term vision strategy, we can achieve the ban but the EPA alone can do it because it also includes you as citizens to do the right thing to stop littering,” he added.

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