The beginning of the end for the plastic bag

| 07/06/2010

(CNS): Efforts to rid Cayman of the environmental scourge of plastic bags begins in earnest on Wednesday (9 June) when Grand Cayman’s three major supermarkets begin charging 5 cents per plastic bag and start encouraging their customers to carry reusablebags with them to their stores. Cayman BECOME spearheaded a campaign at the beginning of April to encourage shoppers to become plastic bag free. To help the transition to the upcoming implementation of this charge, supermarket cashiers and baggers have received training on the new programme to help them answer customers questions on why plastic bag reduction is important for the Cayman Islands.

The Cayman BECOME education and training committee passed on information about the campaign and how cashiers and baggers can pass the information to customers. This included a presentation and role play, and gave the cashiers a chance to have their own questions answered.
“We are aiming to adapt the interaction between cashier and customer for when the charge is introduced. Cashiers are now being urged to ask customers directly if they have their own bags with them and if not they will ask whether the customer needs a bag and wishes to purchase a reusable bag, or purchase plastic bags” said Joni Kirkconnell, Sr. Sustainable Development Officer at the Department of Environment – one of the trainers for the program and part of the Cayman BECOME education and training committee.
“This should not only make people think about bringing their own bags in the future, but it will also make cashiers more aware of how many plastic bags they are providing, and customers more aware of how many plastic bags they are using. We expect people will not want to pay for more plastic bags than they have to.”
The Cayman BECOME program will present a major change in the supermarket shopping experience on Grand Cayman so supermarket cashiers need to be ready.
“We are trying to ease the transition as far as possible – the cashiers are really on the front line of the campaign, as they will have the most contact with customers, who will no doubt have a lot of questions once the charge is introduced,” said Daphine Watson, trainer with the Department of Tourism’s PRIDE program, who managed the Cayman BECOMEtraining and developed the training presentation.
“We want to prepare them as much as we can so that this change is manageable for all concerned. The Department of Tourism is very pleased to be able to sponsor this effort, through utilising the training skills and experience we have developed in the PRIDE program to assist in this important element of the campaign.”
The training was well received by the cashiers. “Cashiers were very enthusiastic about the training as customers have been very curious, having heard about the changes,” said Raquel Solomon, Training Manager at Fosters Food Fair. “The Cayman BECOME campaign was widely accepted by all the cashiers because of the obvious benefits to the environment that we all enjoy. Many cashiers feel much better now that they know some facts about the program and why it is being done.”
Feedback from cashiers reveals that many customers appreciate the initiative and have already begun to use reusable bags instead of plastic.
“The customers who are most concerned about the planned changes are those that do not seem to be aware of the benefits of the Cayman BECOME campaign. We encourage customers who have questions to just ask, so that we can all do our bit to truly go plastic free,” said Solomon.
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