[Press release] As of July 3, Massy Stores throughout the Caribbean, will begin a campaign to discourage the use of single use plastic bags for bagging of groceries at its checkouts, while actively encouraging customers to shop with reusable bags as a more eco-friendly option.
The strategy to reduce plastic waste is part of the Massy group’s broader commitment to becoming more environmentally sensitive throughout its operations and finding ways of operating more sustainably throughout the region.
This is a phased and gradual strategy which includes a review of all Massy Stores operational practises as well as discussions with suppliers, manufacturers, policy makers, environmental groups and customers. Here in St. Lucia the company will be charging twenty five (25) cents for single use plastic bags provided at checkout.
Managing Director of Massy Stores (SLU) Martin Dorville says the company is focused on finding more permanent solutions to reducing plastic waste and its own demand for plastic bags. He says the decision to encourage customers to use less plastic is bold, courageous and will help to manage the adverse impacts of single use plastic on the environment.
Noting that there has been a wide spectrum of reactions to the initiative to start charging, the company is of the view that behavioural change needs to be rapid and radical if plastic pollution is be reduced and the quality of the environment improved. The expectation is that the charge will serve as a deterrent, causing customers to be more mindful of how they use plastic bags. By charging we develop a practice which reminds them to bring in their reusable bags.
“The strategy to reduce plastic waste generated by and from our operations is critical to safeguarding the environment in which we live, work and play. The continued distribution of single use plastic bags at our stores is an area over which we have immediate control and where collectively with our customers we can have a great impact. The transition may be a difficult for some of our customers in the beginning, thus the early notification of the change, and the ramping up of our reusable bag awareness and promotion campaigns. We are convinced that our collective efforts to curb demand for single use plastics will benefit generations to come,” says Mr. Dorville.
The Managing Director acknowledges that there will be instances where customers will continue to be provided with a plastic bag free of charge. He confirms that customers will receive a free plastic bag if this is necessary to protect loose foodstuffs from dirt and pathogens and prevent seepage from raw fish, raw meat, or raw poultry which could lead to cross contamination.
While acknowledging that businesses have a responsibility to manage plastic waste to minimise adverse impacts of their operations on the environment, the company recognises the importance of policy shifts through legislation as a critical component to catalyse much needed change where this is concerned.
Massy Stores is encouraging organisations with a core environmental mandate to accelerate their programmes to help customers with this important transition. Further and to support such efforts, proceeds from the plastic bag sales will be placed into an Environmental Fund to help with environmental awareness, recycling, waste collection and repurposing projects. This fund will operate in similar vein to the Super J IGA Green Bag fund, which was set up by the company in 2010 and from which environmental organizations including the St. Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority, the St. Lucia National Trust, the Caribbean Youth Environment Network and schools have been assisted with environmental initiatives ranging from awareness to recycling.
The St. Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority has indicated that “a shift from waste disposal to waste reduction is important if we are to minimize the quantity of waste reaching our landfills”. Waste reduction which includes prevention and recycling facilitates better management of waste overall. The Authority notes that the Deglos Sanitary Landfill will run out of space in approximately thirteen (13) years while the Vieux-Fort Solid Waste Management Facility will run out of space in under five (5) years.