Paper or plastic? How has Jamaica benefited?

Author : teriann

Do you remember what happened on this date – January 1, 2019?

Well, that was the Government will impose a ban on single use plastic bags, straws and polystyrene. The ban covered the importation, manufacture and distribution of the materials. The plastic bags that were banned were those that were commonly referred to a ‘scandal bags’ or other bags with dimensions of 24 inches by 24 inches or less.

Bags that were used for packaging and maintaining public health or food safety standards will not be banned. This applied to plastics that were essential for the maintenance of food and safety standards and included plastics used to package raw meat, flour, sugar, rice and baked goods, such as bread.

So how has it been since this ban has been implemented?

Impact on Consumers!

Consumers have certainly adapted to their new reality. Everyone takes their shopping bags now when they go to the supermarket. Sometimes I see consumers who have forgotten their personal bags and they have to try to source boxes or purchase reusable bags.

The price of the reusable bags sold by the merchants has always bothered me as I believed that they should be less costly. One option is to offer paper bags to customers.

These are much less costly to purchase so that cost could be absorbed by the merchant and not passed on to the consumers. However, some merchants charge as much $30 for the paper bag.

So forgetting your own bag can cost you!

Packing it in!

I have found that when packing groceries, the lack of plastic bags can pose a challenge to storing cold items. In order to combat the moisture caused by the thawing out process, it is best to have insulated bags.

Some supermarkets offer bio degradable bags to wrap cold meat items. These bags are usually used to place vegetables and ground provisions.


I am sure that there have been many benefits of the new arrangements. It has prevented pollution by lessening the amount of new raw materials used, reduced the amount of waste that needs to be recycled or, in developing countries, sent to landfills/incinerators and saves money, since reusable items work out cheaper than constantly purchasing more plastic.

Unlike reusable fabric bags, plastic bags can take many lifetimes to biodegrade. Over that time, their light weight allows them to be carried long distances, causing environmental havoc along the way.

Although we still have issues with blockages in gullies, hopefully over time there will be an even further reduction as the use of plastic bags have been disconnected.

So what is your take? Drop me a line to let me know!

Teri Ann Renee Paisley

Gleaner online writer

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