Costa Rica to completely ban polystyrene due to environmental impact
President says his countrymen must make changes ‘in our minds but also in our actions’
Costa Rica is set to ban the import and sale of polystyrene due to environmental concerns over the packaging material.
Signed into law earlier this week, it will come into effect in 2021, the same year the government has said the country will become the first plastic-free and carbon-free country in the world.
Polystyrene, commonly known as “styrofoam” in the US, is widely used for packaging and transporting food due to its lightness, low production costs and because it is hygienic.
However, it is not biodegradable and instead the crumbly material quickly breaks down into damaging microplastics which easily enter waterways and the ocean where they are consumed by marine creatures.
The chemicals used in its production are hazardous to humans and those who are exposed to the styrene component during its production can develop irritation on their skin, eyes, can suffer respiratory and gastrointestinal effects.
The same chemicals also diffuse into waterways and seas contaminating the water and many of the animals we eat.
Costa Rica has long recognised its unique biodiversity as being among the country’s strongest assets. The country covers just 0.03 per cent of the Earth’s surface, but is home to about 4 per cent of the species on the planet, according to its government.
Plastic is recognised as a major threat to this abundance.
The government said it will “promote and encourage the reconversion of industries that work in the import and manufacture of containers or packaging made of expanded polystyrene, encouraging the development of more environmentally friendly alternatives.”
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