Gibbs-Taitt rejects 20 cents plastic charge

Barbadian supermarkets and retailers that charge for shopping bags will seemingly not be violating consumer protection laws.

The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) Thursday said the businesses had an obligation to advise shoppers of the new charge ahead of time, after which it was left to consumers to decide.

The Future Centre Trust and BICO yesterday announced that they were leading an initiative to reduce the use of plastic here, and come May 1, 2017  major supermarkets would charge 20 cents for each plastic shopping bag.

Consumer Protection Officer with the FTC Julia Regis told Barbados TODAY Thursday afternoon the Commission did not regulate prices and could not dictate to supermarkets or retailers if they should or should not place groceries in bags as part of the purchase.

Asked whether the Value Added Tax would be applied to the charge, Regis said the retailers had an obligation to advise shoppers of what was being done.

The announcement of the pending charge did not go down well with some Barbados TODAY readers and the island’s consumer rights body, which described it as “foolishness” and “absolute nonsense”.

Director General of the Barbados Consumer Research Association (BARCRA) Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt said he agreed the country should seek to limit its use of plastic bags and other harmful items.

Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt
Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt

However, he said slapping a charge was not the way to go about it.

“It is absolute nonsense,” an upset Gibbs-Taitt said, insisting consumers did not have an endless supply of money.

“I happen to agree that we need to reduce the plastic bags usage, but the way to do it is with the manufacturers of plastic rather than the end users of plastic. It would have been better if they had got together with the business people to reduce their [manufacturing] of plastics so that the consumers doesn’t get it in the first place not to charge the consumers for a convenience, because that is all it is.”

Saying he “shuddered to think what will be next”, the consumer rights advocate complained that too often a tax or levy was imposed on anything considered to be a problem and “that kind of foolishness needs to stop”.

“I call it foolishness of charging consumers for every ill that you can conceive of. It is gross and needs to stop. Unfortunately our consumers are not smart enough to stick two fingers up to these people and tell them to go fly a kite. That needs to be done,” Gibbs-Taitt told Barbados TODAY.

“Education is a good way to go. Barbadians need to be educated on what not to do rather than to follow foolishness implemented by foolish people.”

The United Kingdom government implemented a five pence charge on plastic bags in October 2015, and the authorities there have since reported a significant drop in the number of plastic bags being used within the first six months, and are projecting a drop of about 83 per cent if the trend continues over the year.

However, Gibbs-Taitt, who lived in the UK for more than two decades, told Barbados TODAY this was because people there would not pay for these bags.

“Implementing a five pence charge on bags, I would not be surprised at all if people went ahead and bought themselves sensible carrier bag and did not buy the [plastic] bags in the first place. The UK consumer is too smart . . . to fall for the foolishness.”

The pending measure has been met with mixed reaction from Barbados TODAY readers, with some welcoming it as an “excellent” idea, while others dismissed it as an “idiotic” move.

One poster, Amanda Clarke, said it was a move “in the right direction”, and recommended replacing styrofoam with recyclable products as the next step.

“Glad to see moves are being made . . . before another terrible idea like Cahill comes about again,” Clarke posted in a reference to the now abandoned idea of a waste to energy plant here.

However, poster Sharon Taylor captured the sentiments of those opposed to the idea by stating: “I hope dem allowed to give out paper bags free! Wunna trying at every turn to kill d poor man . . . stupse.”

Source: (MM)

11 Responses to Rubbish!

  1. Martine Boyer
    Martine Boyer November 18, 2016 at 2:41 am

    I carry collapsible cooler bags in my suitcases and use them for grocery shopping when I travel to Barbados. They are also useful to carry drinks and food at the beach, outdoor concerts, etc.

  2. Carson C Cadogan November 18, 2016 at 2:52 am

    Supermarkets already robbing their customers with overpriced goods, they started illegally passing on the 2% National Social Responsibility Levy to their customers, now they are adding insult to injury with their own plastic bag Tax. And the thing is the price of Plastic bags are already included in the price of their goods, they dont give you plastic bags for free, so dont let them fool you. This is a new camouflage way to pass on the 2% National Social Responsibility Levy to their shoppers. Dont be fooled.

    Remember consumers it is your money the supermarkets are trying to further rob you of, dont let them. You dont spend your hard earned money with these crooks and their plastic bag Tax/2% levy and they go out of business.

    Shop only where this plastic bag Tax/2% levy is not applied.

  3. jrsmith November 18, 2016 at 5:29 am

    @ , Carson C C , hail, hail, on the button , most of the issues of climate change is as the trump said a farce which I agree with…notice its a band wagon the supermarkets is jumping on , in the UK , people has change they shopping habits as you said shop where a bag is given free and thats what I have done…
    Notice most of the poor countries the politicians is using the climate change as and excuse for being not able to manage they countries political…..

    Here is something , a small group in the (UK) about a year ago done a test to see the reaction of public and business in the supermarket and food industry.. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    Getting hold of 6 boxed products with the set price on each..
    The boxes were redesign all green, the prices were added 20% above the original price , for just 2 days the sales of these products increased by 14% this just show , how easy it is to fool the public….. public ..,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    Why the supermarkets cannot give a paper bag as they do in the (US)..
    Why not stop making plastic bags.. Why not stop manufacturing cigarettes which kill people, because of the ( Corporate Political Corruption) wouldn’t be in the interest of the billionaires or the political establishments…….

  4. Francis November 18, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Seriously!! Some of these comments shows that Barbadians are not as educated as we thought.
    The whole idea is to get customers to stop using plastic bags.
    Not to get revenue from the sale of plastic bags.
    We really have a long way to go with this education thing!

  5. Mac November 18, 2016 at 8:45 am

    If the idea is to get customers to stop using plastic bags (that are given to them free) then give them paper bags.

  6. Alex Alleyne November 18, 2016 at 9:02 am

    POPULAR Supermarkets doing too good , so MASSA and company want bajans to shut them down. I hope that POPULAR still give FREE bags.

  7. jrsmith November 18, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Lots of bajans is not as educated as we thought, but we have the sense to ask why cant or would the super markets give us paper bags instead……

  8. Rudolph Boyce November 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Together you Aspire Together You Achieve -now put that into perspective.

  9. Rudolph Boyce November 18, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Ok. we are mainly not to blame but have you seen the islands of plastic all over the Pacific ? the animals we use for food ensnared and those we dont too…what happens over there is no longer ..just over there …suddenly its over here. take a bag with you.. if you cant buy one ..make bajan again become resourceful make colourful ones ..even begin a small business or a hobby …think for yourself the businesses certainly does for themselves.

  10. Sue Donym November 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Does this mean that supermarkets will have less need for checkout employees if most customers will bring their own bags? Might this mean a rethink of how they’re paid when employed. If the ultimate goal is to reduce the need for store-issued bags, many retailers might not be so happy to pay checkout staff to mostly stand around for the odd person who needs bags.
    Will this increase wait time at checkout as customers bag their purchases?
    Was there not a push towards degradable bags or were they found to be too costly to retailers? Are there issues with the length of time to degrade or the extent to which they break down?
    Although I have long carried reusable bags when shopping, it would be interesting to see the impact of large scale change if most stores decided to go this way.

  11. clint November 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    The concept of taking your own bags to shops and supermarkets is nothing new.Actually Barbados had leaded.the way in this aspect during the late sixties, well into the seventies and eighties. Many Barbadians would carry their own bags to put their groceries in- whether it was a reused plastic bag or the more sturdy bags. The issue is the excessive use of plastics which is not biodegradable. These plastics are then discarded into our landfills through the disposal of garbage or they are littered in the environment and in the oceans. Whether disposed of in the landfills or by littering, people are exposed to. various environmental hazards. Plastics improperly disposed in the environment may be used as a receptacle of water and thus provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes. That is only one of many environmental hazards of the improper disposal of plastics. Thus I see the initiative as only a means to reduce the amount of plastic used and subsequently discarded in the environment which can only accrue benefits to individuals and the country as a whole. Thus initiative of bringing your own bags to supermarkets- which was how was done in Barbados in earlier times-has my full backing.


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