This year, Seychelles implemented a ban on importing a range of plastic items, from bags to cutlery.
Judging by the reaction of Seychelles residents, the initiative has been welcomed, even if it has forced the locals to be more creative when running errands or disposing of rubbish. They have swapped bags for boxes to carry their shopping and the plastic bag used in their bin for simply washing the bin after use or bin liners (which are exempt from the ban).
As consumers change habits of a lifetime, importers and shop owners have been given until June to exhaust their stocks of plastics, during which time they are finding alternatives to plastic.
Some shop owners are sourcing eco-friendly bags and biodegradable bin liners from India, according to the Seychelles News Agency. Seychelles Trading Company (STC), one of the country’s largest trading companies, is planning to sell biodegradable plastics such as spoons, forks, knives and plates and trays made of corn.
Though some store owners are considering using paper bags, importing their own is proving an expensive hurdle. They hope that soon they’ll be able to source paper bags locally – as it stands store owners would have to buy large quantities from abroad to maintain their own stock, which is too big an investment for many shopkeepers.
To cover their costs, shopkeepers have said they may sell the bags separately or add the cost directly onto their inventory. Such solutions have been put in place across the world, including in Europe, where the usage of plastic bags has dropped dramatically without any public backlash.
What’s more, the ban has created the potential for new business ventures as locals negotiate the change. Some business owners are now sourcing and importing biodegradable everything – take away boxes, cutlery, cake boxes and bags – to provide for the local market. It seems the Seychellois have taken the plastic ban in their stride.