In 16 days, the ban on single-use plastics comes into effect and chairperson of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation’s (BCCEC) Energy and Environment Committee Deborah Deal is urging business owners to ensure their point of sale and cash register systems are properly updated for the change.
Deal is referring specifically to section eight of the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019, which stipulates that every business establishment that sells a single-use compostable plastic bag at the point of sale must identify the charge of the bag separately on customer receipts as “checkout bag fee”.
“I think (businesses) are ready, but I think they need to be alerted about record keeping. When VAT (value-added tax) changed prices, all businesses had to have their IT (information technology) people do an adjustment on the VAT before the actual time frame, because if you wait until the day, you’re not going to be able to sell anything,” Deal said in an interview with Guardian Business.
“Yes, any plastic bag given at point of sale must be charged $0.25 to $1 and must be added to the invoice stating the bag charge. Even places that don’t provide invoices, over the hill and lunch ladies, that sort of thing, they are going to have to invoice the bag even if they don’t invoice anything else. And yes, if someone is caught not invoicing those, penalties will be in effect as of January 1, as well.”
Fines for acts in contravention of the law start at $2,000 for the first offense and $3,000 for a second offense. Businesses that knowingly provide false or misleading statements to an environmental health officer in the process of conducting inspections are subject to a $5,000 fine or six months imprisonment.
“Some people have been going into stores with their own plastic bags, I don’t mean reusable ones, but the ones that they would have gotten from groceries before. Security is going to have to stop them at the door from taking them into the establishment, because again if there’s no way of recording it afterwards that the person wasn’t given the bag by the establishment, unless it’s obvious – like a John Bull bag at Super Value – still they should not be taking any plastic bags into any establishment unless they want to pay the $0.25 per bag fee,” Deal said.
She suggested giving close family and friends reusable shopping bags and containers for takeout dinners as Christmas gifts this holiday season.
“For stocking stuffers or gifts for people this year with this plastics ban, think of purchasing somebody who gets takeout lunch every single day an actual container that they can take to the establishment, so that the food can go into the container. You can actually get containers that have a recess in the lid where you can put your utensils,” she said.