Don’t Ban Importation of Styrofoam, Plastics! Instead Make Importers Pay to Remove Trash from Environment — Joe Issa
The problem is not with the importation of Styrofoam and plastics, but with their disposal once they have lost their utility value. That’s the view of environmentally conscious businessman and civic leader, Joe Issa.
“Styrofoam and plastics are imported in many different forms and each serves a useful purpose. What we need to do is to ensure that when they are eventually ready to be discarded into the environment, we are there to collect them.
“For those that are already out there in the environment, we need to get them out of there through a programme similar to the scrap metal business, with its own depots operated by an association of importers in order to spread the costs,” says Issa, who is on the St. Ann Chamber of Commerce Past Presidents Committee.
Explaining further, Issa says the importers can be given a number of credits based on the amount of discarded material removed from the environment; it’s much like carbon credits, which are given to companies based on their reduction of carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere.
In addition to getting credits, or as an alternative, some sort of environmentally friendly designation can be issued to importers, which can be leveraged in promoting themselves as good corporate citizens.
“This will make it clear to importers that while they are free to import the non-biodegradable products such as Styrofoam and plastics, it will be their corporate responsibility to remove the trash from the environment, which includes paying people to do so,” says Issa, executive chairman of Cool Group of companies.
According to Issa, what needs to be done is to agree on the process: scrap Styrofoam and plastic operators are to be licensed and their depots approved. The price which the depots pay to the public for collecting and selling scrap material must be agreed upon. And finally, we have to decide how the depots dispose of the mountain of scrap, which may be recycled locally, exported, or contained in a dump or dumps around the island.
Recognizing that there are costs involved, Issa says a simple study can determine the volume of discarded plastics and Styrofoam in the environment, including plastic bags and lunch boxes on beaches and natural habitats.
“Once we know what’s out there, we can calculate the cost to retrieve them. If it is too high, even when spread among all importers, perhaps a tax credit can be given to them. I think it’s a good and fair way of cleaning the environment without the already cash-strapped government having to pay for it,” says Issa.