Senate president chides private sector for failing to scrap use of plastic bags
Members of the Upper House yesterday coalesced to decry the plastic nuisance causing serious environmental concerns in Jamaica and around the globe on World Oceans Day.
Before the Senate embarked on the business of the day, Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson gave a no-holds-barred commentary on how single-use plastic products were creating severe environmental problems in Jamaica and elsewhere.
"I am very distressed with the response from the private sector to what is happening internationally," Tavares-Finson said. "It strikes me as stupid for our retailers not to recognise that you can't continue to give people three and four plastic bags. It is not in the interest of the country, and it can't be in the interest of the supermarkets either."
He said that there was no effort on the part of supermarkets and other retailers to try and encourage the use of tote bags.
Tavares-Finson noted that while the Government has signalled that it would be taking steps to ban plastic bags, the wholesalers and retailers appeared to have not taken any interest in "maintaining the country in which they make a living".
The tourism sector did not escape Tavares-Finson's criticism. He accused the sector of using plastic straws and plastic cups "and they don't understand that they are destroying their own tourist product".
The Senate president said that if anyone saw him accepting plastic bags in the supermarket, he would pay their grocery bills.
Government Senator Don Wehby agreed with the senate president that the private sector should play a greater role in safeguarding the environment.
"The supermarket that I am involved in on Earth Day, we have started a programme of using recycled bags, and it has been such a tremendous success from the consumers that we have to be reordering on a weekly basis to keep up with the demand," he said.
Government senators Sophia Fraser-Binns, Matthew Samuda, and Aubyn Hill also participated in the discussion.
Samuda tabled a motion in the Senate last year to ban single-use plastic bags. The motion received unanimous support from the Senate.