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Mixed opinion on plastic bag tax

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A proposal by environmentalists to legislate a fee for disposable bags has drawn mixed reviews from the public.

Greenrock and the Bermuda Marine Debris Taskforce are behind a campaign to have shoppers pay 25 cents for disposable bags in an effort to discourage their use.

The groups recently launched an online petition which will ask Government to legislate the fee.

The Royal Gazette took to the streets to find out what people thought of the proposal.

Some felt it was another tax during hard economic times, others applauded the possible impact on the environment.

Trisha Curtis didn’t think the measure would be effective in cutting back waste.

“In the end, I think it’s your choice,” she said. “If you want to pay 25 cents for a bag, pay 25 cents for a bag. If not, just bring a bag.”

Hamin Smith wasn’t sold on the proposal either.

“Sometimes you leave the bags at home or in the car,” he said. “This will make groceries more expensive. It’s not a good idea right now. We are struggling.

“Why don’t they just stop bringing the bags in? We don’t make plastic bags here, so raise the tariff on bringing them in.”

David Aitkin agreed that the initiative could cut back on waste but would be too costly for shoppers.

“People have been giving away bags all this time,” he said. “Why change it now when things are more expensive?”

The real problem was changing shoppers’ habits, Aaron Stone said.

“I have probably around half a dozen of the reusable bags at home, but I almost never remember to bring them to the store so they pretty much just collect dust,” he said. “If the stores switched to biodegradable bags, that would save everyone a lot of money and cut back on pollution.”

Rianne Baker said the move would only encourage more people to shop overseas and take advantage of courier services.

“Things are too expensive as is. I have to pay $100 for groceries a week and that’s not going down,” she said.

“I’m all for saving the environment and things, but we need to get the cost of living down before we start charging people for bags.”

Christine Wilding, visiting the Island from London, said there are stores in the UK that charge for bags already.

“I think it’s a good idea, myself,” she said. “We have some stores doing it now and others are considering doing something similar, charging a small amount for bags.

“It’s not a lot to ask people for, but it stops people from taking loads of bags and wasting them.”

Chamber of Commerce Chairman Ronnie Viera said that several businesses have already made the switch to biodegradable bags.

However, he said the proposal as put forward by Greenrock seems to be “somewhat cumbersome to institute”.

“In many parts of the world they have banned plastic containers altogether,” Mr Viera said. “Perhaps that should be the point of discussion.”

Useful website: greenrock.org/projects/no-thanks

Christine Wilding
Trisha Curtis
David Aitkin
Amin Smith

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Published April 29, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 29, 2013 at 12:51 am)

Mixed opinion on plastic bag tax

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