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NEWS: Consumers appear to be resisting single-use plastics purchase, with fee acting as deterrent

Eyewitness News - Despite initial consumer frustrations over the fee for single-use plastic bags, the added cost appears to be fulfilling its purpose as a ‘deterrent’, according to Debby Deal, chair of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce’s Energy and Environment Division.

Deal noted that records mandated by businesses over the sale of single-use plastic bags will likely show that consumers have largely resisted purchasing the bags.

Under the new law, businesses are allowed to possess and sell prohibited plastics to customers up to June 30, 2020 for a fee.

Businesses will be allowed to sell compostable single-use plastic bags for 25 cents to $1, excluding VAT.

“There is a lot of commotion on it but if anyone had read the document put out in August they would know the fee would be there and it would come as no surprise,” Deal said.

“I think it was enough advertisement, especially in the last couple of months that said if you don’t bring your own bag you would have to pay up. I feel bad that people wait until the last minute and moan and groan about it but because of the fee it has deterred people from using the bags. It appears to be working.

“People aren’t buying the bags. Very few people are paying the 0.25 cents. If people aren’t paying for them and not buying them it shows that it’s working.”

She added: “It’s a shame we had to introduce a fee but if we didn’t June would come and people would be complaining still.

“I think with the record keeping businesses will see that the number of bags sold compared to what they used to purchase and give away would be down. It’s a quick way of finding out if it’s working.”

In April 2018, The Ministry of Environment and Housing signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation’s (BCCEC) Energy and Environment Committee focused on the elimination of single-use plastics and Styrofoam containers for food and beverage.

The Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019 prohibits single-use plastic food packaging and non-biodegradable, oxo-biodegradable and biodegradable single-use plastic bags; prohibit the release of balloons; and regulate the use of compostable single-use plastic bags.

Single-use plastic food containers outlined in the bill include: Styrofoam cups, plates and other similar Styrofoam items used to contain food; plastic knives, forks, spoons and straws.

Written by Natario McKenzie

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