‘Bring Your Own Bag’ initiative to mark Earth Day

Volunteers in April 2016 distributing eco-friendly shopping bags at previous AML BYOB event. (Photo courtesy of AML Foods Ltd.)

A conservation war on plastic grocery bags is about to be launched as thousands of free reusable shopping bags will be put in the hands of shoppers this coming weekend, as Abaco Markets Limited (AML) Foods Ltd. will commemorate Earth Day with its 3rd annual Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) event on Sunday.

That weekend, the company hopes to distribute more than 10,000 free, reusable shopping bags to customers at grocery outlets on New Providence and on Grand Bahama.

Participating stores include Solomon’s Super Center at Old Trail Road, Solomon’s Yamacraw, Solomon’s Fresh Market Harbour Bay and Old Fort Bay in New Providence, as well as at Solomon’s Lucaya and Solomon’s Freeport in Grand Bahama.

Started in April 2016, the initiative aims to reduce the number of plastic bags in circulation in The Bahamas.

AML is partnering with representatives from Caribbean Bottling, Island Wholesale, Scotia Bank, the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Paint Fair, Pelican Bay, Nassau Agencies Limited and select international vendors to distribute the eco-friendly canvas shopping bags during Sunday’s event.

Gavin Watchorn, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of AML Foods Ltd. Said, the BYOB event works to raise awareness and to bring the company towards its ultimate goal of eliminating the use of plastic bags in its overall operations.

“Currently, all of our retail outlets use biodegradable plastic bags,” Watchorn said.

“As a company, we are focused on reducing our impact even further by aligning with strategic partners to implement this green initiative. In the future, we see all of our locations operating without the use of plastic bags.”

The push to reduce and ultimately eliminate the use of plastic bags is a key element for preserving the country’s natural environment. Earlier this month, Environment and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira announced the government’s plan to ban plastic bags in the Bahamas by 2020.

AML officials estimate that if each customer uses two reusable bags per week, approximately two million plastic bags could be removed from local circulation annually. The company believes that in the long run, opting for more eco-friendly alternatives at the checkout counter, could have a significant impact on the island’s ecosystem.

Renea Bastian, vice president of marketing and communications, encouraged the Bahamian community to come out and participate in Sunday’s exercise.

“Through the BYOB program, we have been able to distribute more than 36,000 bags over the past three years,” Bastian said.

“We are aiming to reduce, reuse and recycle wherever possible and we want to encourage our shoppers to make the switch from plastic to reusable bags. In addition to the free bags that will be given away on Sunday, we also have additional eco-friendly canvas bags on sale at our locations to assist our customers with the transition.”

The BYOB distribution process will begin when AML retail outlets open on April 22 and will continue while supplies last.