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Roberts anticipates ‘big push back’ from single-use plastic ban

As The Bahamas prepares for a ban on single-use plastics next year, Super Value owner Rupert Roberts said he anticipates a “big push back” from customers over the introduction of fees for grocery bags.

“In January, it’s mandated by law that we have to charge the customer 25 cents for these bags, for the plastic bags which we’re giving them now,” Roberts told The Nassau Guardian.

“Now, you know, there’s going to be a big push back on that but it’s the law. They’re going to accept that the way they accepted VAT (value-added tax).”

The draft Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019, was released for public consultation earlier this month.

The bill provides for a transition period of six months, during which businesses would be allowed to possess and sell prohibited single-use plastic bags to customers for a fee that ranges between 25 cents and $1.

Roberts said his company has already purchased 750 cases of canvas recyclable bags.

“We have about 75,000 of the reusable bags on the way,” he said.

Roberts also said he has requested approval from the government on the introduction of corn-based plastic bags, noting “if they won’t accept a corn-based bag then they need to reject corn itself”.

While Roberts’ company is making headway on the elimination of plastic from the food stores, he expressed concerns about how the ban would impact the packaging of meat and other non-processed items at the stores.

“The meat trays and the produce trays, that’s another problem,” Roberts said.

When asked how, he said, “They’re banned…We were foam, now we have to switch to paper.”

However, in spite of the challenges his company is facing in preparation for the ban, Roberts said he “certainly supports” the government’s decision to eliminate single-use plastics.

The new law would prohibit the import, distribution, manufacturing, possession and sale of single-use plastic bags and food containers.

It would allow business establishments to sell compostable single-use plastic bags to a customer at the point of sale for a fee from 25 cents to $1 per bag, excluding VAT.

Fees collected from these sales would be retained by the business.

The bill provides that the fee for the sale of a compostable bag must be separately stated on the receipt provided to the customer and identified on the receipt as “checkout bag fee”.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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