Senators discuss extending plastic bag ban to paper bags | Guam News

Lawmakers heard two environment-related measures Tuesday morning – one that creates a task force to explore the feasibility of securing the Tumon Bay reef and beach, and another that would ban the use of handbags. take away disposable plastics to retail and wholesale stores.

The plastic bag measure, Bill 373-35, removes an exception for high-quality or biodegradable multipurpose plastic bags from an existing law banning take-out plastic bags.

Guam law sets January 2021 as the starting point for the current ban on single-use plastic bags. Bill 373 has 10 co-sponsors, two more than the number of votes needed to pass a bill. Bill 373 maintains the effective date of 2021.

The measure allows disposable paper take-out bags, but Senator Régine Biscoe Lee, who introduced the measure, has declared herself open to considering another amendment to also ban paper bags.

This is supported by Jackie Marati, chair of the Island’s Community Sustainability Advisory Board. The board supports Bill 373 and also calls for the passage of an amendment to ban paper bags, she added.

“We have long moved on to taking action to do the right thing with not only plastics, but also paper bags and also styrofoam,” said Marati.

Austin Shelton, executive director of the Center for Island Sustainability at the University of Guam and associate director of UOG Sea Grant, gave the reasons for a paper bag ban:

• They emit more air pollution during manufacture than plastics.

• They require four times more energy to produce.

• They don’t necessarily degrade faster than plastic bags and add more mass to landfills.

Resident Paul Tobiason suggested giving residents freedom of choice, which he described as allowing shoppers to use a plastic bag for a small fee.

“That 10 cent fee could also go to the Recycling Fund or the Zero Waste Fund. It could become very useful, further strengthen the fund,” Tobiason said.

Kathy Calvo, executive vice president and president of Pay-Less Markets Inc., as well as a member of the Sustainability Board, said Pay-Less supports the ban on paper bags.

“In fact, I am open to the idea that Paul Tobiason had presented regarding the fees,” Calvo said. “This is something that many states have implemented. (Pay-Less is) obviously going to continue to have reusable bags available for sale, but if someone brings them in or if we have a minimal supply… I think maybe there could be some form of royalty available to customers, and that becomes more of a deterrent. “

Reef insurance

Bill 372-35, the Insurance Task Force Bill, is “the first step in our efforts to establish protections for one of our most precious resources,” according to Lee, who also introduced the measure.

Bill 372 provides for the exploration of parametric insurance and a public-private partnership to implement the concept.

According to Earth Journalism Network, parametric reef insurance will cover the costs of rapid response actions to identify and repair damage to reefs after the impact of a storm.

Essentially, with parametric insurance coverage is triggered when a selected parameter, such as wind speed, exceeds an agreed threshold at a specific location – Tumon Bay, in this case.

If established, Guam will be the first in its region and the second jurisdiction in the world to do so, Lee said.

The state government of Quintana Roo, Mexico has purchased parametric insurance coverage that would offer up to $ 3.8 million to repair hurricane damage to the reef if winds above 100 knots are encountered. registered in the covered area, Business Insurance reported in June 2019. The Nature Conservancy has partnered with the Mexican state government and others to design the insurance policy for the reefs.

Senator Mary Torres asked if it was also practical to include the island’s reef reserves in potential future policy. Lee said the bill focuses on Tumon Bay because funding would be easier to determine and the bay is Guam’s greatest economic asset. The inclusion of other preserves is possible, but it will be for the working group to discuss, she added.

Mallory Morgan, national coral reef management specialist in the Bureau of Statistics and Planning, agreed it would be great to include all reservations, but wondered if that wouldn’t make the insurance policy more expensive. .

“And so maybe we need to pick our priorities first and see how it works,” Morgan said.

In Mexico, the hotel industry was one of the main financial backers of their policy, she noted.

“This is one of the reasons we kind of identified Tumon Bay as maybe the first step… to create a successful model with the potential to replicate it elsewhere,” Lee replied.

Ethel J. Montes

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