Plastics Ban Will Increase Our Business Costs


By Riel Major
Tribune Staff Reporter

Local distributors have expressed fears that the upcoming 2020 ban on single-use plastics and Styrofoam will result in a decline of customers purchasing disposable food packaging items.

Cleo Sweeting, of Variety Disposable Products, said a lot of customers “are raising their eyebrows” at the higher cost of the eco-friendly alternative products.

Ms Sweeting said: “We have already started switching over with the compostable. (However the increase in cost) is going to affect us because obviously the prices are going to go up and we don’t know how the consumers are going to be purchasing. Plastic straws are cheap; $2.99 for 500 versus a paper straw they have to pay for about $30 for 600.”

One distributor, who preferred to be unnamed, said customers purchasing the alternative products have noticed the price hike. “(Yes, it will negatively affect my business) because people don’t want to pay more for anything. But it is what it is and it’s good for the environment, so people just have to decide they have to spend money on things that they need. The cost of living in this country continues to go up anyway. It’s good for the environment but unfortunately the alternatives are also to create eco-friendly alternatives which does cost more.”

The distributor explained: “Plastic and Styrofoam are very cheap oil-based products, whereas these biodegradable and eco-friendly containers are made of a different material that cost more because it’s not mainstream marketing at the moment.

“How are you supposed to sell 99 cents breakfast when your container cost about 99 cents? Consumers haven’t been complaining and are happy that we have the alternatives but obviously they’re not happy that it’s a bit more than the cheap Styrofoam.”

Last year, Environment and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira officially announced his ministry’s initiative to ban single-use plastics and Styrofoam in the country by January 1, 2020. In terms of the impact on businesses that rely on the use of plastic bags and Styrofoam, as well as local distributors of these products, the ministry believes this will ultimately be a “win-win” situation.

With grocery stores bringing in an estimated 26 million plastic bags a year, the ban is predicted to help businesses save money while also giving local “creatives” the opportunity to help develop alternatives.

Mr Ferreira said last year this is why the ban is a “great opportunity for the creation of jobs,” specifically calling out to artists, straw vendors, and creatives.

He invited them to “redesign the traditional crocus sack bags and add some Androsia and a dash of our native straw”.

Rachel Chea