Dilemma about the use of styrofoam cups

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Dilemma about the use of styrofoam cups

Consumers in dilemma about styrofoam cups as ministry asks factories to continue business

By Salah Al Deberky - Reporter

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Published: Sun 15 Mar 2015, 12:54 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:33 PM

Dubai — Are styrofoam cups safe? People across the country are now thinking twice before having their hot cup of coffee or tea in these cups. At the same time, they have not stopped using them  simply because of the convenience and because they are still not sure whether they are safe or not.

TO USE OR NOT TO USE ... The safety of styrofoam cups is still under discussion. — KT photo by Leslie Pableo

Conflicting statements issued by officials over the past month have only added to the confusion. Latest in the string of such statements is a letter from the consumer protection department at the Ministry of Economy sent to the owners of polystyrene factories that manufacture the cups, on Tuesday, assuring them that it had not issued a decision that bans the use of the cups, and asking  them to continue business as normal.

The department said the information that the use of the cups adversely affects the health of the user was inaccurate.

The letter also said that the news carried by a section of the local press was incorrect and that the Ministry of Economy had not issued any decision banning the use of styrofoam cups. According to the letter, the ministry had no right to take such a decision, but it would take the necessary measures to address the effects ensuing from the news.

Polystyrene factories had been incurring heavy losses as a result of the initial report that called for a ban of such cups.

A month ago, Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, Director of the consumer protection department had issued a statement banning the use of these cups. The statement was reported by the local press after which the Ministry of Economy banned the use of these cups.

“The decision of the higher committee of the protection of consumer which bans the use of the cups, was taken as a result of international decisions and lab tests on suspicion that it causes cancer,” said Dr Al Nuaimi.

On the contrary, the Dubai Municipality assured consumers that the cups were safe according to the currently enforced and applicable international laws and legislations. It was after this that the factory owners received the latest letter.

An owner of one of the factories manufacturing such cups, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We had submitted a report issued by the laboratories to the MoE which confirmed that the product is safe. We were stunned by the ministry’s letter which denied the ban, and wondered on the conflicting statements which caused the factories operating in this field to incur losses.”

Rabab Jabara, a Dubai resident said that she trusted the official authorities. “I feel that the plastic cups are detrimental to health because the cup ‘melts’ when hot water is poured in it.”

“The ministry of economy is not authorised with determining what is harmful and what is not harmful, and that is the task of municipalities and the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology,” she said. Jabara wondered why manufacturing companies did not ask for proof. “The society will be affected by conflicting statements from the official which is a serious matter,” she added.

Abdul Rahman Ismail, another resident said retracting these statements in time is a good thing, but the negative impacts of the statements will remain.

He said statements should be based on in-depth studies and expressed regret over the issuances by an official without ensuring their authenticity.


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