By LEANDRA ROLLE
AS the country braces for the government’s upcoming ban on single-use plastics, some local retailers are saying they have not yet made preparations for the 2020 ban, which will come into effect next month.
In an interview with The Tribune, owner of Centreville Food Store, Horace Miller said his store is still using single-use plastics, adding that the retailer has not made much progress in preparing for the looming plastic-ban deadline.
“I really haven’t made any kind of preparations per se as yet because so many other things have been on my mind. You have a business to run and then to be saddled with this again. Yeah, you’re trying to move in the right direction, but you know it’s a cost factor that (is) involved,” he said.
“It’s hard enough trying to keep your doors open and you know to be saddled with another expense. Light bills are extraordinarily high and I can’t absorb another (bill) so it’s going to be an added cost to me on top of everything that’s going on.”
Mr Miller said while he has not purchased any bio-degradable alternative products for the store, he intends to do so soon.
“I’ve been online to locate some that I may have to purchase and let customers buy them from me….it’s not easy because people are accustomed to having the bags at their disposal…but, I guess that’s the way the world is heading so we have to fall in line,” he continued
Last year, Environment and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira announced his ministry’s initiative to ban single-use plastics and Styrofoam in the country by January 1, 2020.
By implementing the ban, the Bahamas will join more than 40 countries around the world including parts of the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Kenya that have already enforced or are in the process of formulating bans on selected plastic and Styrofoam products.
While many stores and businesses in the country have already refrained from using plastic and Styrofoam ahead of the ban, some stores told The Tribune that they are still in the process of preparing for the upcoming deadline.
One of the them is the Village Grocery Store.
Having already purchased eco-friendly products for the food store, the shop’s owner Kim Smith said she feels the transition will be a smooth one.
“We’re going to get the bio-degradable bags and we’ve already started ordering those in and then we’re going to have our own reusable bags (for) when customers come in if they don’t bring their bags, we’ll have re-usable bags on hand for them to purchase at a minimum price. (But), we feel as though we’re going to have a pretty smooth transition with that,” she said.
Meanwhile, Candia Rolle, purchasing manager for Variety Disposal Products, added: “I would say we are already prepared. We started to distribute. . .the reusable bags sometime in September at no cost to customers. Now, we sell those bags. We’ve already stopped bringing in all the foam products and we have the sugar cane and paper as replacements,” she said.
With grocery stores bringing in an estimated 26 million plastic bags a year, the ban is also predicted to help businesses save more money.
However, some business owners have expressed fears that the upcoming ban will result in a decline of customers purchasing disposable food packaging items.
“I think with our locals, we’re going to have some challenges, but we’re going to try have the bags. One challenge is definitely going to be cost. I don’t think the Bahamian population is really understanding that when they go in the store, we’re going to have to sell a plastic bag to them, so we have to really stress that,” said Mrs Smith.
Another representative from a popular local food store shared similar sentiments to this newspaper.
“We’re going to have a lot of problems with customers because we have to charge them 25 cents to a dollar (for using plastic bags),” said the representative, who asked not to be named.
But, with Styrofoam and plastics posing as detrimental threats to the country’s environment, officials have noted that the ban will have positive impacts on local health, tourism and the country’s marine life.