TIS wants ban on polystyrene containers

Saturday January 30, 2016 Written by Published in Environment

The Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) is liaising with the Cook Islands government in an effort to ban the use of the Expandable Polystyrene Foam (EPS) products, especially those used for packaging in the takeaways food industry in the Cook Islands


Apart from being an environmental pollutant, the containers don’t biodegrade easily.

TIS technical advisor Kelvin Passfield said the organization had held talks with the government on banning their use.

While the process was slow, TIS was optimistic of a positive outcome.

“They (the government) are working on getting all the information together. They would like us to give them more information to help analyse the situation,” he said.

Major cities around the world have banned the use of EPS because of the harm it does to the environment.

New York City recently joined the growing number of cities around the globe to ban the products which include cups, bowls, plates, takeout containers and trays.

Passfield said alternatives were available that could reduce the use of polystyrene in the Cook Islands.

TIS has embarked on a project to promote traditional food baskets at the takeaway centres.

“We are starting a project to reduce the use of polystyrene food packaging in takeaway food industry, particularly in the markets.

“We would like to promote an increased use of raurau baskets made from kikau.”

Passfield said a TIS post on Facebook about the issue had generated interest among locals.

Some had even offered assistance in teaching and learning the skills required to make raurau baskets or plates.

“I have contacted Violet Tisam from the Cook Islands Trades Training Institute and she is willing to run a short course on weaving those raurau plates for seven to 10 people,” Passfield said.

“Most of the locals know how it is done and this opportunity is for those who want to learn and contribute towards reducing the use of polystyrene.”

TIS is also working on collaboration with the Enabled Women’s Collective, the Vaine Angaanga Toa, based at the Creative Centre in Tupapa.

“They have a stall at the Punanga Nui Market every Saturdays and we are hoping to have the raurau baskets available in time for promotion this Saturday.”

Passfield said people could also use biodegradable alternatives to the polystyrene foam clamshell containers.

“A number of outlets are now selling biodegradable food containers made from sugar cane or bamboo fibre that can be used by food outlets.

“But these biodegradable containers cost more so we are trying to find out if there is any outlet out there selling them at a cheaper rate.”

Passfield said Punanga Nui and Muri night markets were a major concern and TIS wanted to eliminate the use of polystyrene containers at these places.

 “We need to support these initiatives, which will reduce the amount of foam food containers getting burnt, releasing harmful gases, or else just filling up our landfill.” 

1 comment

  • Comment Link Kimi Nooroa Monday, 01 February 2016 10:03 posted by Kimi Nooroa

    What a total waste of time trying to create a "Passfield Law" to try and ban these polystyrene containers. Its ridiculous to ever think about that first rather than other container products that don't biodegrade quickly like plastic drink bottles, ice cream containers etc. Alernative to the polystyrene containers is 'raurau'?. How pathetic you are Mr Passfield. You are even doing more harm to the coconut tree than the polystyrene. The hygiene of the raurau will come into question whether its cleaned properly or not. You will tend to get a bug or two from a raurau plate than polystyrene. If I was to order me 10 raurau of food, how do you expect me to carry the 10 raurau?. Its gonna be awkward to do such. If I was to to store the raurau of food in my fridge, its just gonna use up a lot of room and too messy also. If its to cut down cost of buying these polystyrene or biodegradable containers, then I could only confirm that you will be causing the worse impact to the environment and that is by cutting down the coconut tree fronds. In a good sense, we can use the raurau for our traditional style feasts which is ideal but not raurau for commercial food services. I like the idea too of teaching how to make the raurau but really nothing to do with your plans if banning polystyrene food containers. You might have to start banning none biodegradable items first like the shoes and jandals you wear coz thats gonna even be hard to breakdown. Do a test by soaking a tiny piece of the polystyrene container with petrol and do the same with a jandal or a small piece of plastic bottle...then see which one disolves quicker. I do however appreciate your determination to protect our environment. Meitaki maata - Kimi Nooroa/Auckland NZ

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