WITH PLASTIC production ballooning globally in the last 50 years – from a reported 15 million tons in 1964 to some 311 million tons in 2014 – Jamaica is not the only country that has sought, through a ban, to help arrest the associated pollution.
The trouble, according to the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), is that bans applied elsewhere in the world have not proven to be especially effective or sustainable, whereas the application of a surcharge has.
“CAPRI looked at countries around the world – developed and developing – that had done different things to deal with the plastic problem and almost without exception, the countries that had a ban had failed. Without fail, the countries that did surcharges had seen drops in plastic bags of up to 90 per cent within three to six months,” said director of research at CAPRI, Dr Diana Thorburn.
This point is well made in the institute’s recent report titled ‘Managing Plastic Waste: Single-use Plastic Bags’, which cites examples from countries including Ireland, England and Denmark that have successfully imposed a surcharge on plastic bags.
In the case of Ireland, which in 2002 imposed a levy with a law requiring retailers to charge a £0.15 cent to customers at point of sale, they saw, the report said, “90 per cent of customers returning to reusable bags within a year and one billion fewer bags used”.