With three months to go before the May 1, commencement date for shoppers to pay 20 cents per plastic bag at some of the island’s leading supermarkets and retail stores, the initiative is getting strong resistance from some customers while some retailers are expressing reservations about implanting the fee.
However, organizer of the scheme, advocacy director of the Future Centre Trust Kammie Holder is telling them to stop complaining and get on board.
“Many persons have been complaining about the whole initiative where a deterrent fee is being charged as of May 1, as it relates to the plastic bags from supermarkets,” he said in reference to customers, adding that they had the option of taking their own bags when making purchase.
Last November, Holder announced that the move, which is being introduced with ice-cream manufacturer BICO Limited, was in an effort to reduce the heavy use of plastic bags, believed to be in excess of 100 million annually.
Holder said besides customers, some retailers were opposed to the initiative, which he said was designed to help protect the environment. He opted not to name those retailers that were expressing reservations about implementing the 20 cents fee per plastic bag.
He was speaking to members of the media this morning following the presentation of cheques to winners in the Nicholls Baking Company Limited Ca$h $ Bags competition.
“Some merchants are saying if they don’t give customers plastic bags [for free] that they are not going to shop. But within Barbados you have retailers such as Cost-u-Less, PriceSmart and others who do not give plastic bags and there is no complaint, but there is much indifference in this country. And the Government must also take leadership in this initiative,” said Holder.
“This is the time that every merchant, every retailer must take responsibility and come on board and do something for the environment of Barbados,” he insisted.
Holder expressed disappointment in Barbadians, saying there were too many double standards. He called on all Barbadians to take the issue of recycling and proper disposal of their garbage more seriously.
“Interesting enough Barbadians will leave Barbados today and go Antigua and be told plastic bags are banned and they will comply. But yet we are finding it difficult in this country to comply. You have persons going to supermarkets and wanting to bag bread, or buying a razor blade or chewing gum and want a single use plastic bag,” said Holder.
“The task of Barbadians especially the corporate entities, is to not ask what the country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country. The same push back we give will come to haunt us. We cannot continue to be so reactive,” he said, while pointing to the dangers that plastic bags posed to the environment, animals and humans.
Holder also called on financial institutions to look at the possibility of offering more attractive “green loans” to spur more entrepreneurial activities in the green energy sector.
The Ca$h $ Bags competition was organised by Nicholls Baking Co Ltd in association with the Future Centre Trust, to encourage students to recycle the plastic bags. The competition, which started in October and ended last month, saw West Terrace Primary School walking away with the $8,000 prize after collecting 2,510 of the specially marked salt bread bags.
Second place of $5,000 went to the Charles F Broome Memorial Primary School for its 2,490 bags. There was no third prize as the other 29 primary schools, six secondary schools and four private and one public nursery schools fell below the 1,000 mark.
A total of 45,000 specially marked salt bread bags were turned in.