Plastic bags from supermarkets are
not quite a distant memory, but stores are seeing a huge drop in the number of
plastic bags people are requesting to pack up their groceries.
Local supermarkets stopped handing
out free plastic bags to customers on 9 June and started charging 5 cents per
bag. Since then, the number of bags requested by customers has decreased dramatically,
store managers say.
Money raised from the sale of the
new biodegradable bags are being pumped back into environmental initiatives in
the stores, or is donated to community programmes.
Customers at Foster’s Food Fair
IGA’s five stores have bought enough of the 5-cent bags to enable the company to
donate $10,000 to the Central Caribbean Marine Institute.
“As we mentioned at the beginning
of the Become campaign, whatever monies our customers pay us for the bags will
not be going to our bottom line. It’s all going back into the community for
green efforts,” said Woody Foster, managing director of Foster’s.
He said as part of its campaign “to
increase awareness on the importance of ‘going green’ and continuing on the
path to improve our Islands”, the company has donated money to the marine institute,
which runs the Little Cayman Research Centre, to help it conduct research,
education, conservation, and outreach programmes to sustain marine diversity
for future generations.
The donation to the Central
Caribbean Marine Institute is the first in a series, Mr. Foster said. Other
worthy causes and green initiatives will also receive donations as long as
people continue to buy the bags. He added that his company is targeting programmes
that offer education on the environment, especially to the younger generation.
The marine institute teaches
students about their marine ecology, with conservation field-oriented
educational programmes in which students gain a better understanding of critical
issues facing tropical marine ecosystems.
The donation from Foster’s will
provide students ages 12 to 16 at government schools with eco-courses designed
to begin the education process, support school curriculum activity and help the
children learn more about their own marine surrounding.
Mr. Foster said that while some
people are still using plastic bags, there has been a massive drop in the
numbers at Foster’s stores.
Kirk’s and Hurley’s have also seen
a major decrease, so much so that both stores may have to throw away their
stock of biodegradable bags because they are degrading faster than people are
“We’ve seen a 75 per cent drop,
maybe more, and we’re selling fewer each month as time goes by,” said Randy
Merren of Hurley’s Group. “There are very few bags being sold in our store.
It’s mostly people who’ve forgotten to bring a bag with them.”
Mr. Merren said much of the money
raised by the sale of the bags is being used to buy other environmentally
friendly packaging in the store, such as the containers being used at its deli
Kirk Supermarket general manager
Charles Jury said about 100 biodegradable plastic bags were being sold in his
store a day, or about 600 a week. Previously, the store went through a pallet
of 10,000 bags a week,
“It’s really been a drastic
reduction. It’s definitely worked,” Mr. Jury said.
The stores also sell re-useable
Before the supermarkets stopped
giving away the bags, it was estimated that more than 12 million plastic bags a
year were being handed out – the vast majority of which ended up in the