Wed | May 22, 2019

JET CEO concerned about garbage bag replacement

Published:Monday | December 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
The shoreline along the Michael Manley Boulevard is littered with plastic bottles washed down from gullies in Kingston.

It is the fault of the Government why consumers and some members of the business community are in limbo over what to expect when the ban on single-use plastics, plastic bags, straws and styrofoam takes effect next month, according to Suzanne Stanley, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET).

Stanley is particularly concerned about possible environmental hazards that may arise from the ban on plastic bags, which she says raises the question of how citizens will containerise their garbage, given that a lot of Jamaicans use plastic bags for that purpose.

While she welcomes the ban on single-use plastics and styrofoam that have for years threatened the environment, Stanley holds the opinion that the powers that be have not done enough to sensitise the public on what safe options will exist come January and beyond. She also expressed concern that plastic bottles were not added to the ban list.

"We have been advocating for the ban for many years. However, there is a lack of clarity surrounding these things at the national and community levels. We had, and still have, concerns that plastic bottles were left out of the mix. The ban will deal with the other things, but what about plastic bottles that make up a large portion of the plastic that persists in our environment?" she asked.




"We are concerned about the fact that scandal bags are commonly used by Jamaican households as garbage bags. When you take that free source of garbage bags away, what alternatives have you made readily available to Jamaicans? What public education have you done around the fact that they won't be able to get a free scandal bag anymore?"

Stanley advised against the use of paper bags as replacement for plastic, and suggested that persons utilise reusable bags instead.

"JET is asking Jamaica not to replace plastic bags with paper bags. Everything should be reusable," she said.

For those who are not sure what kinds of alternative bags to use for grocery shopping, Savgore Limited, a company in St Andrew, offers four types of bags that have been tested by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, according to David Jaddoo, the entity's public relations manager.

"Currently, we offer a biodegradable bag, with the aim of ridding Jamaica of the dangers of plastic. Our bags are extremely durable. We offer the vegetables and fruits bag. Regular plastic secretes some types of chemicals on foods. Biodegradable is much more healthy. We currently offer a brand of garbage bags called the Stout garbage bags and they come in various sizes. Another item we offer is the vest or grocery bags. Also, we have non-woven bags or breathable bags. These bags enforce the recycling campaign of reducing, reusing and recycling. We try to keep it as close as possible to what the regular plastic bags would cost, but it will be a little more in cost," he said.