The more than a year-old ban on the commercial use of plastic bags has seen major businesses conforming, but compliance among smaller operators remains problematic.
The ban on T-shirt bags, normally used as shopping bags, came into effect at the end of June 2016 as the government made moves to be more mindful of the environment. At the time, the smaller businesses were given about a three-month grace period.
“There has been widespread support from a number of agencies but we are still seeing evidence of plastic bags at smaller supermarkets as well as smaller organisations kind of using them,” Arica Hill, an environment education officer told OBSERVER media.
She said the push now is to get those businesses to start using the reusable bags and to that end they have had interactions with them.
“We are going to be distributing some reusable bags to them so that they feel like there’s an option for them at their supermarkets. These bags are not for sale, they are free bags that they will be able to give to their patrons at these supermarkets,” the environment officer said.
At the time of the ban’s launch, Molwyn Joseph, the minister of health and the environment, had said that they were reducing the volume of plastic bags that end up in the watercourses and wetlands.
“We are giving our mangroves a fighting chance to be a source of healthy marine life, that can only benefit us as a people,” he was reported as saying.
Since then a ban on the importation of polystyrene, known by the brand name Styrofoam, has also been introduced with implementation getting underway.
Bans on plastic bags and polystyrene containers have been adopted in numerous countries as they look to counter the effects they have on the environment. The items are notorious for clogging waterways and pose choking hazards to wildlife.