Food vendors have no excuse not to comply with the plastic ban which took effect on Monday, Energy and Water Resources Minister Wilfred Abrahams has declared.
Abrahams told Barbados TODAY that while he empathises with vendors and others who complain about the durability of alternatives to single-use plastics and polystyrene foam, they were given a grace period to ensure they could make the switch to eco-friendly materials.
He said: “There is no excuse to not comply. If what is on the market is not sustainable for you then source something else. It can not be with a couple of months to go that you are not happy with what is on the market.
“Then do your research and approach the people who stock it – the retailers. They have to bring in something that is fit for purpose. If they bring in something that is not working don’t buy it buy it from somebody else but a solution is there.”
Addressing the threats of vendors who plan to up their prices now that they must buy alternative packaging they claim is more expensive, the minister said that while the Government cannot dictate vendors’ retail prices for their products and services, it will not support price gouging.
“They are some unscrupulous business people who look for every opportunity to make a dollar and to raise their prices. If the cost per unit has increased by 50 cents and you carry up your price by two dollars then you’re gouging and at some time the market is going to take care of that,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Turning his attention to the threat, plastics can pose to the water supply, the minister for water resources said Barbadians need to be responsible for the environment in which they live.
“I came up knowing that I would get a cut tail if I threw something out of the car window. The adults are doing it and the children see it and see nothing wrong with it,” he said.
Abrahams suggested Barbadians need to understand that they must place their garbage in the garbage bins.
He said: “We are not children, the children are children. We need to be responsible adults and take care of the environment. The Government can ban plastics but even if it is a paper bag or something biodegradable there is somewhere to put it so it can go through its process. If you throw anything other than where it is supposed to go then you can cause problems. Be responsible.
“Garbage bins are there for a reason and if you cannot find a garbage can put the plastic bag or paper bag in your pocket until you find a garbage bin. We cannot keep on excusing lawless behavior because at the end of the day that is what it is lawless behaviour.