Stop the Overuse of Plastic Packaging in STC! #StopAndSwitchSTC

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STC, the largest and most popular supermarket in Seychelles, is fully owned by the Government. Recently, the STC has caused uproar amongst its more environmentally-conscious and -friendly shoppers with the extreme overuse of plastic packaging for fruit and veg. 

In 2017, the Government of Seychelles banned certain single-use plastic items, including plastic bags, cups, plates, and cutlery. Certain plastic bags were exempted from the ban including those used to pack perishables such as meat, poultry, and fish, and portioned bulk produce such as rice, sugar and flour. It would appear that the ban also exempts plastic bags for repackaging whole or portioned fruit and veg “as clients need to see their quality”.

Therefore, plastic bags are still being used by STC to pack individual items of fruit and veg, with staff refusing to sell the produce (stating "management policy") if it isn't placed in a STC plastic bag. Furthermore, STC, seemingly oblivious to the environmental concerns caused by plastic, has also adopted a new fad of placing (usually a couple but no more than four) fruit or veg items on trays and wrapping it in endless Clingfilm plastic. 

While many may argue that plastic packaging is essential for hygiene, is it really justified since we know that fruit and veg come with their own washable, compostable skin?  The justification that “clients need to see their quality” hence fruit and veg need to be repackaged in plastic bags does not hold in STC where most of the fruit and veg are displayed in loose form. What better way for clients to see the quality of the produce than to pick up individual items from the display bins and examine it themselves? Evidently plastic (bags or Clingfilm) is NOT necessary for clients to see the quality of the fruit or veg. It is therefore not clear why they must be placed in plastic bags (as opposed to environmentally-friendly alternatives which include a shopper’s own reusable bags) for weighing and purchase. It is also not clear why some need to be repackaged in Clingfilm.

It would appear that there has been a failure within Government to communicate the purpose of the plastic bag ban and the reasoning behind the "essential" exemptions. The tragedy is while the community has become more conscious shoppers and many carry with them their own reusable bags (including ones designed for fruit and veg so they can be separately weighed), STC continuously refuses, without a reasonable explanation, to allow shoppers to purchase fruits and veg in their own reusable bags or containers (or even old STC plastic bags from a previous fruit and veg shop!). 

Despite some notable efforts being undertaken by Government, such as the Plastic Bag Ban, Blue Economy Initiative and Debt-for-Nature Swap, it would seem that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. 

As Seychelles does not have an effective waste management policy for plastic, these plastic bags and Clingfilm are eventually tossed out on an open landfill and often end up in our oceans, where they have proven to be deadly. Not only does plastic kill marine life, it is ending up in the seafood we eat, causing concern for human health. It is estimated that if plastic continues to make its way to our oceans, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!

Although many furious shoppers have taken to social media to express their outrage it would seem that local authorities have yet to react. As one of the largest supermarkets in Seychelles, STC have the power to make a valuable change and contribute to keeping our country and oceans clean. 

Please consider adding your name to this petition to demand that STC cease their wasteful overuse of plastic packaging and allow shoppers to bring their own bags to pack their fruit and veg. 

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