We now have the plastic bag ban in effect. So where do we think the many pallets of plastic bags in warehouses are now going to go? My observation is that Guam residents already know that they should try to avoid plastic bags. Some do well and bring their own reusable bag. Many other just don't seem to care.

For quite some time I have tried and tried to suggest to our lawmakers a different approach.

Do not “ban” plastic bags. Instead, give residents the “freedom of choice.” Yes, the store will give you a plastic bag BUT ... it comes at a cost ... 25 cents for each bag. Shoppers then have a choice.

Bring your own bag or container and no charge.

Now, what to do about the money from the plastic bag charges? My suggestion was to put it into the Recycling Revolving Fund and then use that money to “amplify” the payout for used beverage containers - that is, aluminum cans and scrap ferrous metals.

Right now the used beverage container rate is 40 cents per kilogram. A full trash bag of these cans might yield $1.50. That's a lot of labor and time for a small return. What if that same bag was worth $5? Using the money in the recycling fund could make this possible. As for scrap ferrous metals (steel pipes, rebar, bicycles, etc.) the current payout is 5 cents per kilogram. So why not boost this with the recycling fund money?

The money is sitting in some bank. Money is a tool. Let's put it to good use.

As residents of Guam, we can only try our best to present our ideas to the senators/lawmakers.

Whether they “really” put some serious thought into it is another matter. We must all remember that we elected them and that they actually work for us. At least that's the theory.

Paul Tobiason is a resident of Chalan Pago and a member of the Recycling Association of Guam.


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