The Guam Youth Congress, which shadows the grown-up Guam Legislature, hasn't had much luck in getting its concerns translated into real legislative action, but GYC's bill to ban polluting plastic bags appears to be an exception.
At the request of GYC, the Committee on Rules chaired by Sen. Regine Biscoe Lee has introduced Bill 242-34 that would gradually ban the use of fuel-based plastic shopping bags on Guam.
If enacted into law, the plastic ban would roll into effect on April 1. Under the bill, retail stores and restaurants would be prohibited from distributing disposable carry-out plastic bags for retail items or take-out meals “unless those bags are made available for purchase for no less than 25 cents.” The bill also proposes to tax businesses 10 cents per plastic bag imported into Guam.
Revenues from the fines would be deposited into the Wildlife Conservation Fund.
The plastic bag tax would be collected until Oct. 1, after which a total ban would be in effect. Violations would result in a fine of $500 for the first offense and $1,000 per each repeat offense.
“This is my fourth year in the Guam Youth Congress, and this is the first Youth Congress bill I have seen introduced to the Guam Legislature,” said the Youth Congress Speaker Javan Santos, the sponsor of the bill.
“I sincerely thank Senator Lee for allowing my voice and the voice of the youth to be heard by our legislators.” The bill will now follow the same process as all legislative bills and awaits referral to a legislative committee by the Committee on Rules. “The youth support minimizing waste and protecting our ocean and island, and this bill seeks to do that for the youth to inherit a cleaner Guam,” Santos said. “I look forward to working with the legislature on this and other bills on behalf of the youth of Guam.”
In October last year, Palau President Tommy Remengesau signed into law a bill that bans stores or other retail establishments from distributing plastic bags at the point of sale to customers. Remengesau signed the bill Tuesday during the leadership meeting at the Palau Civic Hall.
Palau is the latest of the growing list of Pacific island countries and territories to step up the battle against plastic bags. The CNMI and Vanuatu last year passed bills banning the use of plastic bags. American Samoa, the Marshall Islands and the Micronesian state of Yap have already brought in bans and Fiji has launched a levy on the use of plastic bags.