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Businesses, customers brace for ‘scandal bag’ ban

Jamaica’s ban on single-use plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam takes effect in less than 24 hours, and businesses are bracing for the impending change.

While some organisations have met the announcement with some levels of reservation, there are others who have taken a proactive approach to reach out to customers to inform them of their plans.

The impending ban has also seen some organization seeking to cash in on the development, selling bags for prices some Jamaicans have described as exorbitant.

One store, Liguanea Lane Pharmacy has issued notices to its customers about its future plans.

“Effective January 1, 2019, single-use plastic bags, more commonly known as scandal bags will be prohibited,” a notice from the company said.

“As such, we are suggesting that you take along your own shopping bags. Reusable bags will be available for sale. Paper bags will be provided at no extra cost, until March 1, 2019, when a nominal charge will be assigned to paper bags.

“Thank you for your usual co-operation,” the notice stated.

Customers generally welcomed the announcement by the pharmacy.

“I appreciate it when a store reminds you of coming changes and indicate what it will be doing to adapt,” tweeted human rights advocate, Susan Goffe.

Political representative, Sally Porteous, also praised the development with a simple, “Well done”.

However, there were other users who did not fully support the move by the pharmacy and other stores to sell the alternative reusable bags.

“The store needs to provide paying customers with paper bags at no charge; you are sending the wrong message to the business community,” said the user who goes by the name, AMP.

Another social media user complained about the prices of the reusable bags being offered by stores.

“I saw a small reusable bag selling for $130 in a supermarket in Portmore, it can barely hold a bread and a kilo of rice… seems govt figet seh nuff a wi can barely buy food much less reusable bags,” the user, DeeMarie24, said.

Supermarket chain MegaMart stopped issuing plastic bags to customers as early as Sunday, with customers reporting having to either buy a reusable bag for $125 plus tax or use a cardboard box provided free by the store.

One female shopper at MegaMart Portmore complained Sunday that the reusable bags were too small and she would need to buy several of them to carry her items.

“It’s going to cost me nearly $1,000,” she complained.

The Government in September announced the ban on single-use plastics, straws and Styrofoam containers to take effect on January 1, 2019.

The Opposition People’s National Party has since called for the Government to delay the implementation of the ban, and initiate an island-wide public education and awareness campaign to sensitize Jamaicans ahead of any such move.

Spokesperson on Land and the Environment Senator Sophia Fraser Binns argued that this was even more urgent in light of the concerns from stakeholders about what will happen when the ban takes effect.