CPC Release on Plastic Bags
THE SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAG BAN
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU?
The Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Act, 2019 came into effect on 1st January 2020 and since that time has been the subject of much public debate within The Bahamas.
What does this Act mean for you as a consumer in The Bahamas?
Effective January 1, 2020, grocery stores, fast-food restaurants including franchises and other merchants will no longer place items that you purchase from them in the complimentary single-use plastic bag.
The Act strictly prohibits the import, distribution, manufacture, possession, sale, supply or use of single-use plastic food ware, including non-biodegradable, Oxo-biodegradable, and biodegradable single-use plastic bags.
Can merchants who previously provided complimentary paper bags or bags other than plastic continue to provide them to consumers?
Yes, merchants can provide paper bags and other reusable bags. The distribution of paper bags has not been banned. In fact, in preparation for the implementation of the Act, many merchants who previously provided plastic bags have sourced alternative means of packaging items purchased from them, such as paper bags, reusable bags and compostable bags.
Can a merchant charge you for a paper bag?
The Act applies to single-use plastic bags only. Therefore a merchant is not permitted to charge you for a paper bag or other form of bag that is not plastic.
Why are businesses being allowed to charge for the same bags that are banned?
There is a six-month transition period ending 30th June 2020, during which time businesses are required to charge between 25 cents and $1.00 to consumers who choose to use single-use plastic bags. During this transition, businesses are expected to deplete their inventory of plastic bags and the consumer is expected to make the shift away from plastic bags to reusable bags. However, the consumer will have the option to purchase single-use plastic bags if the consumer forgets to carry reusable bags to the store during this period.
CPC has heard several complaints from consumers since the single-use plastic law came into effect. Here are some of these concerns.
- Many merchants have used the transition period to discontinue providing complimentary bags period, forcing consumers to buy single-use plastic or reusable bags. Merchants should provide complimentary reusable or paper bags for its customers.
- The 25-cent fee for single-use plastic bags goes to the merchants and not to the Public Treasury. Therefore, the government has provided another source of income for merchants by allowing them to charge for a product they used to provide at no charge.
- Some merchants have added the sale of plastic bags as another source of income. They are selling plastic bags by the case, knowing that the bags will be banned in six months. Is this legal?
- The Act allows the merchants to charge for single-use plastic bags only. However, some merchants are charging for their own reusable bags instead of providing them free of charge to the customer. Why is this? This is confusing, because it means merchants are selling both plastic and reusable bags.
- If single-use plastic bags are banned by law, all single-use plastic bags should be destroyed and there should be no charge for using the bags.
- Merchants should have been allowed to continue to run off their inventory of single-use plastic bags, which have been provided for already as an expense item in their budget; and once the runoff was complete, customers should have been required to shop with reusable bags or to purchase reusable bags from the vendor effective 1st July 2020.
- Some merchants are not providing plastic bags or paper bags, and consumers are not aware of this until they have completed their shopping and are at the checkout counter.
- The public has not received any guidelines on the proper handling of reusable bags to avoid problems such as food contamination.
CPC is concerned about these consumer complaints. Therefore we are offering some tips on how you as a consumer can strengthen your hand during this transition period.
- Avoid the bag fee by keeping your reusable bags in your car so you can have them handy each time you go to the store. Be sure that the reusable bag you use for meats, poultry or fish is cleaned and dry before you store it in your car.
- Ensure that you use the correct type reusable bag for meats, poultry and fish, and wash the bag immediately after use.
- During the transition period, check your receipt to ensure that if you have purchased a bag, it is listed as a separate line item.
- Avoid shopping with merchants who have refused to offer alternative packaging.
- If you are aware of any merchants who are violating the terms of the new law:
- Report them to the Ministry of Environment and Housing: MOEHPLASTICS@BAHAMAS.GOV.BS
- Let us know at CPC: www.cpcbahamas.org | Tel.: (242) 393-7795-7 |
Fax: (242) 393-7798
CPC believes merchants have a responsibility to help their customers make a smooth transition from single-use plastic bags to paper bags or reusables. It’s just good business and good branding. So here are some tips to help good merchants.
- Merchants should provide complimentary reusable bags with their business branding during the transition period. Complimentary customized reusable bags build customer loyalty and have long-term promotional value. After all, what merchant wants his customer shopping with the competitor’s reusable bag?
- Merchants that choose not to provide paper bags or plastic bags should post the sign “No Bags Provided” so that consumers can decide whether to shop at their business.
REMEMBER: WE ARE WORKING TOGETHER TOWARDS A CLEANER, SAFER, ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY BAHAMAS!
FOR MORE INTERESTING FACTS CHECK OUT: plastic242.com and cpcbahamas.org