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Rough transition

Shopping less customer-friendly because of plastic bag ban, says business leader

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND
Observer staff reporter
sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, March 25, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — A Manchester business leader says that shopping at supermarkets and other retail stores has become less customer-friendly since the implementation of a ban on plastic bags.

Noting that prior to the ban, the cost of scandal bags was included in the cost of grocery and provisions, Doreth Jones, second vice-president of the business lobby group, Manchester Chamber of Commerce, told the Jamaica Observer Central she believed a similar arrangement should now be in place.

With that not being the case, Jones said it's now a hassle for people who may not have planned to shop but decide to make a stop to do so, particularly those using public transportation.

Jones cited challenges both in the inadequate availability and types of alternatives to plastic bags.

She said, for example, that paper bags are not suitable to carry items such as meat, but sometimes that is all that is being offered.

While emphasising that she is in favour of the ban on plastic and does not think that it was done abruptly, Jones said it may not have been thought out completely.

“I don't think it was thought through in its entirety to the end-users, like the consumers. The idea was to address the situation now, which is a good idea, but then what?” she asked.

She believes retailers should consistently ensure that they have suitable and adequate bags to meet the needs of customers, even if it means charging for it in the cost of grocery.

Jones's comments were a follow-up to a concern she put forward at a recent monthly meeting of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce at Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, where the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) was present.

CAC representative Timothy Watson addressed the group, ahead of World Consumer Rights Day that was recognised on Friday, March 15.

Watson, who is the regional officer for the CAC Mandeville branch, which caters to consumers in Manchester, Clarendon, St Elizabeth, and parts of Westmoreland and Trelawny, told the Observer Central that his organisation has been working with consumers and retailers to make the transition from plastic bags smoother.

He said that retailers are encouraged to have bags in store that can be purchased to alleviate the challenges for shoppers who may not come prepared with their own but have a desire to shop.

Watson expressed optimism amid concerns that businesses may be losing sales during the transition period and that the challenges could result in the plastic ban not being enforced in the long run.

He said that he believes that consumers and retailers will, over time, be better able to handle the adjustments. He has seen where creative ways are being found to deal with the changes.


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