Shoppers Getting Used To Life With No Plastic


Tribune Staff Reporter

A FEW local organisations have started making preparations for the 2020 ban of single-use plastics and Styrofoam.

Kristal Ambrose, founder and director of Bahamas Plastic Movement, said yesterday people are now aware and the progress in Nassau has been amazing.

Ms Ambrose said: “I think we are halfway there or a quarter of the way there, education and awareness especially through our organisations on the island of Eleuthera in particular has been a lot of momentum. That momentum is translating into the capital as well as a lot of businesses, vendors and citizens are now aware of this plastic ban coming in 2020.

“They have some idea of why this ban is being enforced and the implications single use plastic have on the marine environment and also human health. People are willing to adapt as long as our alternatives are readily available and affordable.”

She added: “I think we are halfway there but I think we need to ramp up our education around this ban. We need to ramp up on the why this is being done and we need to start outlining the alternatives that exist within other countries.”

When asked if she thought the government would enforce the proposed ban, she said: “I want to say yes. The government behind the scenes is working diligently on making this happen.”

She added: “Our organisation is not going to be behind the enforcement, but we are going to be as the activist role that we play holding the government accountable. I feel like [the government] will make this commitment.

“Because this is an international agreement in terms of countries all around the world especially the Caribbean have committed to reducing their plastic output. Being that this news has hit the international stage the government [will have] to be accountable in managing this particular ban.”

Ahead of the proposed 2020 ban, Ms Ambrose said some businesses have already started phasing out the products.

“Baha Mar has phased out the use of plastic straws and they made the switch to paper. Atlantis has made a commitment to get rid of their single-use plastic, the Island House boutique resort phased out all single-use plastic items. There are incentives at Starbucks when you take your own reusable cup you get a discount there,” she said.

Naomi Grant, of AML Foods, said the company’s brands such as Solomon’s, Fresh Market and Cost Right will definitely be ready for the 2020 deadline.

Ms Grant said: “Our organisation wouldn’t need to really prepare, we’re prepared for it and we are planning to do more things gearing up towards that time. We are definitely planning on being well-prepared and ahead of the ball for the conversion.

“For the past four years we’ve been doing the bring your own bag for the Fresh Market brand format because we are environmentally friendly. We are looking for eco-friendly items…we sell eco-friendly forks, knives and plates so as the economy is moving that we’re moving that way.”

Ms Grant said this summer Cost Right stores will no longer be using single-use plastic. She said: “[Solomon’s and Fresh Market] will be following in the same footsteps as [Cost Right] but we just don’t have an exact date for that. Because Cost Right doesn’t really use as many [plastic] bags as we would in Fresh Market and Solomon’s so it’s an easier transition. We have had to plan carefully but we will be on target for that date.

AML stores also had a promotion yesterday which saw shoppers get a free reusable tote bag with a purchase.

Meanwhile Sharon Stewart, a representative of Bamboo Shack restaurants, said the organisation is moving in the direction of using biodegradable supplies.

Mrs Stewart said: “Maybe by the end of this year [we will be done using single-use plastic and Styrofoam]. The [Styrofoam] plates we don’t use anymore and so we’ll definitely be ready by 2020.”

She said Bamboo Shack wants to be environmentally friendly.

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.

Mr Ferreira also spoke about the long-term health and environment impacts from single-use plastics - such as disposable utensils, straws and shopping bags - and Styrofoam, which contribute to street and ocean litter as well as health disorders when chemicals from these products are leached into food.

Rachel Chea