Styrofoam maybe recycled for other uses for now, however, there is no need to continue doing so when the ban comes into effect at the beginning of next year.
The ACEO of the MNRE, Environmental Conservation division, Mr. Seumalo Afele Faiilagi, said what people do with Styrofoam for now, is up to them, but there will come a time when this is not going to be an option.
" Whatever purpose to reduce, reuse, or recycle, I suppose they are only in use now because the ban is not in effect yet.” Faiilagi explained.
“People are using and being creative with Styrofoam for now but it’s not an alternative to be recommended by the Ministry because there is a plan to be enforced soon and there are already options that the business community has embraced this year.
"This is not a recommended alternative for Styrofoam to be recycled for decorative purposes made out of plastic foam cups.
“There are already solutions that various businesses initiated with government ministries like the use of Palm plates and biodegradable plates that have better use.
“These are already tested and they are naturally made with a major difference to Styrofoam products, it takes years for them to break down on top of toxic chemicals they are made of.
“For these alternatives of biodegradable cups and plates, things will turn out for the best for our country and our collective regional approach to end the use of these harmful products in our marine environment."
The response by Seumalo followed Newsline Samoa questions regarding some students in the previous Literacy and numeracy week by MESC creatively produced decorative artwork from Styrofoam.
Seumalo added that the government's effort to finally push through with its second stage of ban on plastics is anticipated to be equally supported by the public and the business communities as it did with the first stage of the ban on plastic straws, packing bags and shopping bags.
“We have been speaking nonstop about the awareness programs in place for our initiative to ban plastics and the government is hoping to protect its people from being exposed to the dangers of plastics that unfortunately reach the sea and pose high risks for marine ecosystem.
Plastics break into micro plastics and from recent regional studies (from USP), micro plastics are found in the tissues of fish and it is very toxic if they reach our diets.
“Who knows maybe this is one of the reasons why our people have been infected with all sorts of illnesses and even though there are no researches done specifically in this area, I am sure they contribute in some way.”
Seumalo revealed that Styrofoam are as deadly as plastics carelessly thrown around and end up at the sea.
“Sometimes you see many pieces of plastics floating in the sea, and fish eat them. So knowing the government’s plan to strengthen policies help protect the people from these dangerous hazards to our health.”
Seumalo agued that no government policy is intended to burden people, so Samoa in contributing to the global fight to relieve communities of plastics as the latest to join Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Fiji and New Zealand, ‘collective effort’ is needed for the plans to work effectively.
“Our governments push to protect our environment as part of the universal fight to get rid of plastics once and for all as they damage our marine resources. Because at the end of the day, we rely heavily on resources for local consumption and we are the biggest body of Pacific ocean and it is important for us to become part of the fight to contribute to the global crisis of plastics”
Seumalo reaffirmed that the ministry (MNRE) looks forward to waste audit next year when the ban on plastics reaches a year mark since its enforcement to see whether there is a reduction in percentage of plastics banned this year.
“This initiative does not happen overnight and banning Styrofoam is also going to be the same thing, we anticipate people to be aware that there is an advantageous reason for the existence of this law that will continually benefit communities in the future.”
“We are grateful for the support of the public and business community that even though it hasn’t always been easy, but they are very supportive based on the underlying reason why we want it.”
“This development is widely supported because of how these pollutants destroy the environment and to ensure we will not detriment the environment but look at sustainability of our resources for the future.”