[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

September 23, 2009

Channel 5 Belize

Environmental Bill targets glass but not plastic bottles

The debate is growing over a new piece of legislation that went through the House almost unnoticed. It is a bill to add a deposit of twenty-five cents to imports of beverages in glass bottles and tin went through a first reading in the House of Representatives on August twenty-fourth. The Bill is modeled after a Barbados Environmental Act, but has excluded plastic bottles. Industry stakeholders attended today’s subcommittee meeting in Belmopan and gave their viewpoint on the proposed deposit. For the Bowen and Bowen group, local producer of Belikin, it means a leveled playing field. But for Karl H. Menzies, importer of Heineken, it means an increase in price. Both made presentations at the House sub-committee in the capital. The two companies distribute alcoholic beverages but have differing viewpoints on the bill. One environmental group, the Belize Audubon Society, says that the bill should have included plastics, because products made from plastic are known to be the main type of trash on the streets and which are accumulating in the dump sites.

Amanda Burgos Acosta, Advocacy Manager, Belize Audubon Society
“The bill as it is written affects basically your glass beverage bottles and what they call steel cans containers from one gallon and smaller pretty much.”

Hilly Martinez, Public Relations Manager, Bowen and Bowen
“Our company does support the refund in pint bottles for soft drinks. At present even though without any legislation, we buy back our bottles. And we have instances in which some schools—both primary and junior colleges—would ask the students to bring in the bottles and that is used to sell back to us and that is used to subsidize some of the school supplies. We have people making a living from this thing. So we are not objecting to plastics. And I don’t know what is Audubon’s position, so I cannot comment on it. As far as our company is concern, we have no problem with the position of the deposits on plastics.”

Jose Sanchez
“After a parade you see a lot of plastics on the ground—not bottles, not glass.”

Hilly Martinez
“After a parade you don’t see any coke, fanta or sprite pint bottles on the ground because people pick them up as soon as you drop them. You may see other products on the ground, but not coke fanta or sprite because it has a value. And so they pick it up and bring it in and they get their redemption value.”

Amanda Burgos Acosta
“The bill basically is mimicked or is likened to a Barbados act, same title; a returnable beverage bill or act. And their one does include plastic bottles and aluminum cans. And they include in there a recycling and redemption centre. Our bill doesn’t have that.”

Kay Menzies, Karl H. Menzies, Importer of Heineken
“We made our position fairly clear, we made several points on the subject that the deposit too high to encourage recycling, that in fact, the height of the deposit will deter the informal market from reusing the bottles which is what has been happening in the past. They will raise the prices to the seaweed vendors and stuff. So there is that and we kinda suggested to them that existing stocks would be kind of a problem for most distributors so there needs to be sort of a cut off date as to what would be accepted and a sort of management requirement because people getting into it, it’s a matter of how they’ll handle it and how they’ll be allowed to handle it because the law doesn’t speak to that at all.”

Jose Sanchez
“What happens to your bottle when you take it back?

Kay Menzies
“When we take it back, the plan will be to destroy it. It will have to be destroyed in order to not continue coming back to us. So that will take it off the streets and it will reduce the availability for the informal market basically.”

Jose Sanchez
“According to environmental people, like the Audubon, our problems with the environment really stems from plastics. Shouldn’t that have been in the bill?”

Kay Menzies
“We absolutely and we made that statement very strongly today that an environmental bill is not really an environmental bill without plastics in it. I think the recent celebrations showed you every time you go down the streets anywhere after the rains, everything that is littering the street is plastic and Styrofoam.”

Jose Sanchez
“For this bill to be effective they would have needed to include plastics and cans.”

Amanda Burgos Acosta
“ Well, the bill is a beginning, so lets give that way. It is a beginning because we haven’t had anything similar to this before. However, it is a missed opportunity in that we could have at the same time be removing plastic as well as the aluminum cans from the ecosystems. It would help eliminate the solid waste issue, the trash issue that we have.”

Before the bill is passed, it would have to go through two more readings in the House of Representatives.

http://www.channel5belize.com/archive_detail_story.php?story_id=25330


[an error occurred while processing this directive]