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Bagging plastic bags


JAMES EDGEWORTH

Bagging plastic bags

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AS WE INCH EVER CLOSER to eliminating plastic bags from supermarkets, I have to ask an important question: Has any of this been thought out?

Supporters of the initiative point to the positive impact on landfills and on the environment as a major reason, but is that benefit truly relevant? For instance, on May 22 on CBC, a Mr Eastmond from a subsidiary of the Williams Group proudly declared that the group was helping in the initiative by importing paper bags (emblazoned with their logo, of course) into Barbados which would be sold to consumers who would, in theory, replace the dastardly plastic bags with these paper bags.

While the idea was sound, exactly how environmentally friendly was this plan? The paper bags weren’t being made locally (although I’m sure there are people who can make environmentally friendly bags here) and they were being shipped to Barbados (where they were hoping to get it duty-free).

First off, unless they will be made free for the public, they should not be duty-free and secondly, isn’t the environmental impact (sourcing the materials for the paper, making the bags, shipping the bags overseas) much worse than if we used the same amount of plastic bags to do the job? Did anyone think this out?

That question of thinking before doing comes up again to this whole policy. How exactly will consumers benefit from this? Anyone visiting a supermarket in Barbados knows that things are too expensive here and asking them to bring bags that they don’t have, and then having to pay a fee for every plastic bag they ask for (which will undoubtedly be the same bags that have caused the problem), seems mean.

Why not add an incentive for bringing your bag (say a flat 1-5 per cent discount on the entire bill for bringing your own bag) first BEFORE demanding more money? Seems like the only people benefiting are the supermarkets.

Furthermore, this whole exercise is to lower the impact on the environment, yet, where are the real initiatives? Why aren’t electric cars being sold by the major dealerships here? Why aren’t there more tax incentives for being environmentally friendly?

Why aren’t there more recycling initiatives/a nationwide recycling programme which targets materials beyond plastic and glass bottles? Why don’t we have an emissions standard limiting emissions that come from these old cars/trucks/buses? What about littering laws?

This plan seems well intentioned but there’s no structure to it. How much will consumers have to pay per bag when this policy takes hold? Has there been any discussion with other stakeholders other than the supermarkets? How do consumers feel? Not just the middle to high-income ones, but the lower income ones as well?

What about the plastic bag distributors? Have they been given a chance to make an alternative? I applaud the idea, but the execution leaves much to be desired.

– JAMES EDGEWORTH

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