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Letter of the Day | Give customers incentives for reusable bags

Published:Tuesday | June 25, 2019 | 12:00 AM


One of the first laws of economics is that people respond to incentives. Really and truly, the solution is simple: instilling conservative habits until it becomes a lifestyle. But that is as simple as it gets. The difficulty is, how do we do that?

It’s not always easy to remember to carry your shopping bags to the grocery stores, or any store, especially for one item. It’s often more convenient to grab on the go; in fact, it is necessary to do so after purchasing one’s item. However, if we can encourage persons to walk with their reusable shopping bags more often, then that could minimise one of the problems of the plastic bag ban.

Simply put, a reward – A small reward, of course. Coupons for customers who make every 100 or more purchases with their own shopping bags at the same grocery store could be encouraged. Or customers can earn points that allow them to be eligible for a chance to win cash and/or voucher prizes at grocery stores. Of course, not every business owner will be able to subscribe to this, especially new and/or small businesses.

And not every customer will win or be rewarded for every purchase with their own bags, as I could imagine the dent that would put on the gross income of business owners and it will not contribute to their tax payments. It would also be financially senseless for them to do so.

How could business owners benefit? For a given number of customers’ purchases with their own bags, they could receive reasonable importation tax deals of that year. Economically, this could boost sales.

Paper bags are temporarily useful, sort of, but I will admit they are not the best alternatives for plastic bags. Reusable bags are a bit of a concern for health officials as well, given that they may transport bacteria and viruses.

So what’s next for Jamaica? Until the next viable option arrives, perhaps taking personal care and use for our reusables is our best bet at present.


Deputy General Manager,