As the government prepares to implement its ban on single-use plastics in the next five months, some retailers say there are some challenges but they expect a smooth transition.
Candia Rolle, who is the purchasing manager for Variety Disposable Products, said the company has not had difficulty sourcing biodegradable products and has already introduced many options to its shelves. She noted, however, that the cost factor is an issue.
“We’re trying our best to keep the costs down. Biodegradable products are very expensive out of the United States,” she told Guardian Business.
“It will impact the business mainly because persons are already used to their lifestyle. Mainly in a bad way because it is more costly because, how we usually have functions as Bahamians, if you want to have a party this is what you’re going to have to buy.”
The draft Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019 was released for public consultation yesterday.
The bill prohibits the import, distribution, manufacturing, possession and sale of single-use plastic bags and food containers.
Rolle said her company will seek clarification on whether the products it already has in stock that are labelled biodegradable would be prohibited.
“We do sell biodegradable foam products but we’ll have to find out from whomever is on the commission if those are even acceptable. Those are products we’ve had for a number of years now,” she said.
Morgan Wells, the owner of The Paper Place, said since she started her business three years ago her primary focus was already on eco-friendly products, so she doesn’t think the ban will gravely impact her product offerings.
“As a business person I do always look at the cost and I do understand that for restaurants and people offering these products, it is an increased cost. I’m small so I’m able to offer at a really low price, but I do see why other businesses may be more expensive because they have more overhead,” she told Guardian Business.
“It is going to be tough, but I think everyone needs to find a balance and realize that you’re doing it for the greater good of the country. The dump is in the state it’s in, the pollution is just overwhelming, so I think we just have to be drastic and say enough is enough and it’s time to make the cut-off and make the change.
“We’ve already been contacting people ahead of time to let them know what their options are and that there are alternatives. I’ve been trying to source different suppliers so that I can make sure to give people the lowest price possible, while still being in business myself and remaining profitable. And also giving people lots of different options for the different types of things that they might serve.”
The bill provides for a transition period of six months, during which businesses will be allowed to possess and sell prohibited single-use plastic bags to customers for a fee that ranges between 25 cents and one dollar.
Wells said she had little to no major issues with the draft and supports the idea of a transition period to sell off the items businesses already have in stock.
“I think it’s a pretty good draft. I don’t think there are any major changes that I would suggest, other than allowing some retailers and department stores that have a large inventory of other items such as plastic forks, to have a transition period for a few months until they deplete their stock. But other than that I think it’s a good draft,” she said.
The bill would also allow exceptions for plastic bags used for several specific purposes, including: bags for waste disposal; compostable single-use plastic bags; bags intended to be used solely to contain wholly or partly unwrapped food for consumption, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, ground coffee, grains, or candies; and a bag intended to be used to solely contain live aquatic creatures in water.