The Government’s ban on single-use plastics is now in full effect.
The Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Act, 2019 came into effect on January 1st, 2020. The Act outlines that Businesses have until June 30, 2020 to possess prohibited items such as plastic bags on the condition that the items are sold to customers at a fee no less than 25 cents and no more than $1, excluding value-added tax.
Despite some consumers taking issue with the implementation of the ban on single-use plastics and the plastic bag fee in particular at grocery stores, the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation is doing its part to encourage Bahamians to see the wisdom in moving away from plastic which has been harmful to the environment and to embrace environmentally friendly alternatives.
Towards this end, when the popular Farmers Market season resumes at Gladstone Road on Saturday, January 18th, BAIC will continue to promote the replacement of plastic bags.
According to Acting General Manager at BAIC Ms. Debbie Strachan, patrons will see the continuation of an initiative started last year in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Housing.
“As the talk began on the initiative last year to ban plastic, we had a mega Farmers Market where we were able to introduce reusable bags to our patrons and we gave away hundreds of bags on that particular Saturday.” Ms. Strachan said they have been selling straw tote-shopping bags at the Farmers Market and many patrons took advantage of that opportunity to prepare for the plastic ban. She said BAIC saw this as a way of assisting artisans in increasing their sales and taking advantage of that marketing opportunity for the plastic ban and using items that are handcrafted in the Bahamas.
BAIC is now encouraging Bahamian Straw Artisans to take full advantage of this opportunity to provide reusable straw tote bags as a suitable replacement for plastic bags. Two of those artisans who are already busy at work filling orders for straw shopping bags are Ms. Agatha Mackey and Ms. Keisha Pratt.
A lover of straw products, Ms. Mackey said the ban on plastic will give artisans an opportunity to earn a living. She said the ladies who are involved in plaiting straw will also benefit tremendously. “I think it is going to be an exciting time going forward, because it is another earning capacity for artisans and it will take the straw industry to another level because there will be a demand for the bags.”
Straw Artisan Keisha Pratt says straw is one of the major items in Bahamian culture and the creative ideas are blazing through her mind with what can be done with straw bags. “I have already had orders come in for extra large bags with style, colors and class.” She said we are going to do well with this reusable project that the government has put in place. Ms. Pratt said that “we are going to implement it step by step. We are going to get it done and it’s going to be good.”