1. Plastic Question
BUSINESS: Why is it that the local produce in shops is packaged in more plastic than the produce coming in? Is there a way we could change this? Are there plans to increase the amount of local sourcing that happens for food products in Guernsey to reduce the food miles and if not, why not?
Kenny McDonald – Co-op
We are the biggest seller of local sources produce in the Channel Islands and that is going to continue. In answer to the first part of your question- we need people to buy more and we need more people to support local produce and by virtue of that, prices will drop and our ability to support our local growers to remove packaging locally will increase. We are also keen on improving on this. Even though we are the biggest of any local retailer in the Channel Islands, we are not doing enough and certainly Guernsey isn’t doing enough. We are over reliant on Jersey. We want to do more to encourage entrepreneurs and new growers to start local businesses and start supplying products from Guernsey I am not convinced the local products cost more than what we import, and we do rely on the consumer to support local. We brought in a policy last year in the Grand Marches where we focussed on loose produce and we stopped selling pre-packaged. We will keep doing it, but it is important to educate and encourage the general public to see the importance of switching to loose rather than pre packed. There is economy of scale as well, so looking over the first three years of success that we have seen, an example is that we have supported our local mushroom grower to switch to recyclable packaging. Small businesses don’t always have the resources and that’s the part we can play to support and encourage growers to make that transition to recycled packaging. Jersey suppliers have been tasked to get all their packaging to switch over to recycled which will be part of the journey. The next stage is increasing the volume and the awareness of buying loose produce. Guernsey weigh is a great example as how as a retailer is encouraging people to buy loose and reduce food waste. When you go shopping with your parents, when you go shopping on your own, then take the option to buy loose as it makes it much easier for us to support the local growers. We can encourage local growers to bring on new ranges and it is an investment for us and we are happy to do that. There is a question mark around the premiumisation of local products and as a business we need to get the message across that you might be buying produce that is cheaper that has been imported but it is more important that you buy a local product even though it might have a premium on it.
STATES: Lots of cities, places and communities have ban the use of single use plastics including plastic bottles, bags, straws etc. Do you think this is a reasonable possibility for Guernsey in the future?
Lindsay De Sausmarez – Deputy
Yes, but I think that there are quicker ways of getting there. This is one of the answers – my heart sinks because it is a bit boring but of course it makes sense that we should just ban single use plastics. But first of all, you need to be very careful about what you are doing as there are many single use plastics that we are very reliant on especially in the world of health for example, and in preserving food and reducing waste. For example, Kenny could probably talk to you about preserving the shelf life of a cucumber, so it’s got a role to play, but when it comes to things like straws or plastic bags, then there is a really strong argument for getting rid of them. You are quite right that there are jurisdictions around the world (many of them not as affluent and developed as the Bailiwick of Guernsey) who have managed to do that. The boring bit of the answer is that when you are relying on legislation like making new laws that takes a very long time and it takes quite a lot of people working on it. That is the boring and frustrating bit of the answer, but the more encouraging bit of the answer is that I am happy to be a politician, but I am also an environmental activist and I think quite often we should not wait around for governments to do something. Kenny is a very good person to talk to about the plastic bags charge. Guernsey brought in a charge for plastic bags ahead of the UK and didn’t do that because the States said that they had to do it, but it was pressure from the community. A group of people got together and said that we should do that community initiative, got Kenny around the table said we are an island, we are dependent on that amazing marine environment, so what are you doing being part of the problem.
Community pressure is quicker than getting legislation changed.
Sasha Kazantseva-Miller – Deputy
I would like to add that I think we should as a government be sending a signal that this is the direction of travel we want to go in so that business and as a community can get on board now. It will be very difficult, but this is where the community, especially students, are very important and yes, I think we should be legislating as this is what the world is doing.