Some small business owners said yesterday they may have to raise their prices after the government implemented a plastic ban.
Neil Musgrove, the owner of Sky Juice King at Arawak Cay, already started to purchase plant based plastic cups at his stall and provides compostable food containers for his customers.
“I may have went from a stack of 100-count styrofoam plates for $17 to a 50-count stack of the new paper plates, which is $58,” Musgrove said.
“I don’t know about other people, but the plastic ban impacted the fish fry a lot.
“I don’t know what to say. I don’t think this was planned well before they issued it.”
The fish fry vendor of 12 years said he will eventually have to increase his prices, however, he’s concerned about losing his customers.
“I know how out there is,” Musgrove said.
“The minute you go up a dollar, it’s a problem.
“They look at you like, ‘You’re just a stall’. But they don’t consider your expenses.”
Musgrove also admitted that he still gives his customers plastic bags free of charge despite the recent ban.
“I’m still using plastic bags because some people buy three and four plates of food,” Musgrove said.
“You can’t give them their food in their hand.
According to the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Act, 2019, businesses now are required by law to sell compostable bags, anywhere from 25 cents to a dollar.
Styrofoam containers for food and beverages are also banned under the act.
The act also states that an environmental officer may, at all reasonable times and for any purpose related to the enforcement of the act, inspect the premises of a business establishment, or any matter that may assist them in monitoring compliance.
Environmental officer at the ministry, Lyndee Bowe, said yesterday that since January 1, 125 establishments were inspected.
Out of that 125, she said that 21 businesses were not in compliance on New Providence.
Once a business is found to not be in compliance, they are issued a warning.
The ministry then gives that business a few weeks to become compliant and inspects it again.
If the establishment is not in compliance by the second inspection, they are issued a citation, which includes a fine.
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.
Haymish Moxey, the owner of Gone Fishn’, said he’s happy the plastics ban has been implemented, but he’s also bracing for a slight increase in price.
“My business establishment is on the beach, and I know people come out there and litter,” he said.
“Every time you have a surge, the sea regurgitates the plastic and styrofoam, and you can see it’s been in the water forever.
“So, I applaud this move and, of course, we might have to raise the price because all of the plates are much more expensive than the styrofoam.
“So, unfortunately, we may have to pass that on to the customers, but, of course, we won’t be a hog about it.”
Valdino Higgs, the owner of Dino’s Gourmet Conch Salad on West Bay Street, said that more sustainable food containers are much more expensive than their styrofoam counterparts, however, he advised business owners to adapt to the changes to stay in business.
“I think all business owners should be receptive to the changes in the environment because the benefit is a better environment,” Higgs said.
“So, while the cost may be a factor, when it comes to improving things, we have to consider the cost to the environment.”
Higgs added that these costs should not be passed on to the customer, but absorbed by the company.
“Some costs we as business owners need to absorb because not every cost we can pass on to the customer,” he said.
“That’s the price you pay when you’re doing business.
“At the end of the day, it’s the product that the people come for, and once they’re mindful of that, that’s all that’s important.”