Jamaica Exploring Use of Bamboo as a Substitute for Plastic, Styrofoam

written by BVC November 16, 2018
Bamboo forest with sunlight shining through.

Bamboo is being explored as a possible alternative to the production of plastic and Styrofoam containers as the Jamaican government embarks on a policy to ban the use of the materials. Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, J.C. Hutchinson, said the government will be looking closely at the potential of the bamboo sector in filling the gap.

“All that is made from plastic that you can think of can be made from bamboo, so we are going to be looking at it as an alternative for all the plastic that we are presently using,” Hutchinson said.

Starting January 1, 2019, the government will be imposing a ban on the importation, manufacture, distribution, and use of specific categories of plastic packaging materials. These include single-use plastic carrier/shopping bags; expanded polystyrene foam, commonly referred to as Styrofoam; and plastic drinking straws.

President of the Bamboo Industry Association of Jamaica, Robert Rainford, said that the upcoming Caribbean International Bamboo Symposium will feature discussions on how bamboo can be used as a substitute for the materials to be banned.

“The symposium is a great opportunity for us to showcase what bamboo can do, and the issue of plastic and Styrofoam is timely, because bamboo can be a substitute for all of those. We have done a lot of work in that area, and we are looking forward to making sure that we can fill the gap when the time comes,” he said.

The Caribbean International Bamboo Symposium will be held in Kingston on November 27 and 28, under the theme ‘Bamboo: An Economic High Value Chain Resource for the Caribbean.’ The symposium will be followed by a field visit to bamboo productive enterprises on November 29.


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