Letters to the Editor

Paper bags and achieving sustainability

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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Dear Editor,

It has been six months since the ban was imposed on the manufacturing and use of single-use plastic bags across the island. As a result, we have seen the proliferation of single-use paper bags as somewhat of a replacement/substitute, but have we ever asked ourselves how good of a substitute they really are?

This transition came after I witnessed the purchasing items at a local supermarket and customers having again to purchase a paper bag in order to transport the items. What I found most shocking from the situation was that upon reaching not too far from the store the paper bag was almost useless.

This really questions how economically viable these bags are to us as individuals in addition to the sustainability of them in the long run.

While there are other alternatives being implemented, such as the buying of environmentally friendly shopping bags, it is quite unfortunate for one to always remember to bring that heavy-duty bag for the purchase of only one or two items in a time of urgency or convenience.

Even so, with the minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with responsibility for land, environment, climate change and investments, Daryl Vaz, stating that there will be zero tolerance towards those who are in breach, the idea itself is flawed.

In a report by the Jamaican Observer last month he said, it's “five months into it, so everybody should be fully okay. All who had issues in terms of getting alternative packaging, the necessary leeway was given for that, and, therefore, there is no excuse for non-compliance.

Moreover, the use of these bags also questions the very act of sustainability. How can we as a country/society seek to foster sustainable economic development if one constantly has to be making an investment in bags, which in turn is not in our best interest?

Similarly, manufacturers are also complaining that Jamaica was not ready for such a huge step in the sense that they were not prepared to take on the high overhead costs associated with maintaining the stock of paper bags which is relatively more expensive in comparison to plastic.

Likewise, the health sector is also threatened by the fact that reusable bags allow for the spreading of viruses through contact with different items, persons or environments.

Sustainability should seek to assess the preservation of resources for the benefit of future generations, and with the rate at which this new so-called substitute is going, achieving Vision 2030 seems utterly unachievable.

Lamar Grant

Equality Youth Jamaica Representative

lamargrant13@yahoo.com


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