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  • By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Business groups seek postponement of plastic ban

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Guam’s business organizations are asking the legislature to consider putting off the implementation of the plastic ban for another year to provide the business sector and the people of Guam an opportunity to plan and implement new strategies in the absence of plastic and paper bags.

The plastic ban is scheduled to go into effect on Jan 1, 2020. Currently awaiting vote in the legislature is Bill 373-35, which would expand the ban to include biodegradable plastic and paper bags.

“We are still in the midst of an economic disaster the pandemic has caused for our people. The loss of jobs and business are at a magnitude that will take years to recover from,” the Guam Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.

“There are still a great many businesses that are not open. For some companies that are open – 25 percent occupancy or outdoor dining is not enough to cover operations and full employment of their staff. Most businesses are struggling and desperately trying to just survive,” the chamber said.

In a separate statement, the Guam Women Chamber of Commerce joined the GCC’s call for the plastic ban delay.

The GWCC suggested that the legislature amend the bill to push back the ban on the use of biodegradable plastic bags ,to “up to one year, to become effective no earlier than July 1, 2021 and no later than January 1, 2022.”

“Clearlly, this has been a change year for Guam retailers in every niche of our eco nom y,” the GWWC said. Requiring them to to replace their plastic bags with reusabile bags or requiring1 customers to use reusable bags when many re tailers hav,e not been operating, or they have been operating at 25- or 50-percent capacity for most of 2020 places yet another burden on them.”

The GWCC said it encourages its members to use reusable bags to promote island sustainability.

GCC, meanwhile, noted that the use of plastic and paper bags are just not for retail establishments.

“ Local farmers use these bags to place purchased vegetables and fruit in. Take out restaurants and pre-packaged meal programs utilize bags for ease in transport of meals. schools and mayors have used plastic bags to package items for distribution to our community,” the GCC said.

“Aside from businesses, community organizations, and government entities, distributors have up to a year’s supply on hand that need to be depleted. Because of the shutdown of so many businesses, normal movement of these items were not possible.

"Therefore, placing an implementation date that is a few weeks away would be financially devastating. There also needs to be a transition to reusable bags which not only takes into consideration the time element with respect to ordering and shipping to Guam; but also, the requirement for capital which businesses simply do not have. These concerns are top of mind when we consider the banning of plastic and paper bags.”

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