Several makers of plastic bags have already made the transition to eco-friendly alternative raw materials ahead of the ban on petroleum-based bags come New Year’s Day, easing fears of a difficult switch, Minister of Maritime Affairs Kirk Humphrey said.
He told Barbados TODAY that a number of the major plastic bag producers have begun the process of switching to cornstarch-based bags, noting that three manufacturers had already begun to produce alternatives.
He said: “January 1 is the implementation date for the ban on petroleum-based plastic bags and I think when this comes into effect it would be a good test for the country to see how far we have gotten.
“While we don’t manufacture a lot of containers in Barbados, we manufacture a lot of plastic bags.
“We have three or four major companies who have revealed to me that they can now make bags from an environmentally friendly corn starch base and you would see them rolling out by January 1.
“So, we are going to transition away smoothly from the petroleum-based bags and see locally made environmentally friendly products.”
He added: “I think this speaks to creativity and the entrepreneurship that is possible in Barbados and I hope that it helps us to reduce the shock when we implement the ban on January 1. This also speaks well about the spirit of partnership between Government and the private sector, because there has never been a time, we implemented anything without consultation.”
Back in May, Humphrey had revealed that the plastic bag manufacturers had indicated difficulty in meeting the original implementation deadline of January 1, 2019. Government agreed to give them a one-year extension. The Minister revealed then that manufacturers said that they needed time to retrofit their factories in order to be able to produce a different bag.
But Humphrey insisted then that he did not have information about the production cost of the new product and was thus unaware whether the consumer would have to pay more for the final product.
But he urged Barbadians to support the new bags when they are fully on the market.
He told Barbados TODAY: “I think we have to work with our partners now to be able to ensure that Barbadians are able to recognise the difference between the two products and therefore the manufacturers can maintain a decent level of business.
“I am in no position to say how the market is going to respond, I could only encourage Barbadians to support local, to support ingenuity that has manifested itself in the last few months.
“As a Government we will continue to support the manufacturers and continue to have this conversation.”