Ban on paper carryout bags weighed

Senator Regine Biscoe-Lee, a Democrat, is chairperson of the Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs. She says she hopes the next Congressman addresses Guam's relationship with the military, environmental issues and the island's political status. (PNC file photo)

Following requests from stakeholders including UOG’s Center for Island Sustainability, a second public hearing was held to weigh whether an upcoming ban on certain disposable, carryout bags should include both “biodegradable” plastic and paper.

Senator Régine Biscoe Lee initially authored an expansion that allowed paper bags to be offered to consumers, either for free or a fee (language that allowed a business to choose to recover and/or isolate costs for this supply).

“This is a clear solution for our government’s long-term bottom line. Less trash in Layon means landfill cells last longer—which means less money borrowed on the bond market to dig holes in the ground. Hauling less trash to the landfill means lower expenses to our Solid Waste Authority, and perhaps down the road, lower trash fees for our families,” Senator Lee said. “But the positive ripple effect from policies like Bill 373-35 goes even further than just our GovGuam budget. Less trash on our streets means more time and more donations for volunteers, non-profit organizations, church groups, and college students to help other worthy causes.”

During an August public hearing for Bill No. 373-35 (COR), requests were made to further ban this alternative, including testimony from the Island Sustainability Community Advisory Board, which stressed that the production of paper bags emits more air pollution than that of the manufacturing of plastic bags and consumes four times as much energy to produce.

“I implore all of us to continue to invoke our centuries-old wisdom—that before any decision, our first consideration should be, ‘Is this going to make things better or worse for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren,’” Senator Lee said. “We are not here for a three-year tour of duty or for a brief professional stint. We are caretakers entrusted to leave Guam in a better place for the next generation who inherits this treasure.”

(Office of Senator Régine Biscoe Lee News Release)