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Shopping bag fee on the way?

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Environmentalists are campaigning for retailers to charge customers for plastic bags, and are looking for support from the public.

Greenrock, together with the Bermuda Marine Debris Taskforce, will celebrate Earth Day on Monday with the launch of a new campaign aimed at creating a 25-cent fee attached to paper and disposable plastic bags.

Greenrock president Judith Landberg said yesterday: “At the moment we pay for the bags whether you use them or not as stores pass the cost of bags on to consumers in the markup on the goods they buy.

“If stores were to charge for bags then we would get to choose if you wanted to pay for them or bring your own.”

Anne Hyde of KBB added: “We also pay for bag disposal when it ends up as litter on the roadside or the beach. We pay because of the cost to clean up, and the cost to the environment and to our health.”

The campaigners said similar legislation has been passed in Washington DC, causing demand for bags to fall by more than 70 percent.

An online petition at the Greenrock website asks for signatures to impose a small, mandatory charge for single-use bags at the point of sale.

A spokeswoman said part of this fee will be used to teach people about the costs of single-use bags and the other part will be returned to the grocery store to provide an incentive for them and to pay for the cost of the bag.

The petition will then be presented to Cabinet, who will be urged to legislate a separate line item “bag charge” for retailers.

Dr Lansberg said: “We spoke with the Chamber of Commerce Retail Division last year, and while they are supportive they raised a number of issues.

“Many of them use their bags for branding, and some were concerned with how it would look if a customer made a very high end purchase and then they were required to add 25 cents for a bag.

“Our response was: ‘Well then sell them, give as a gift, a nice branded reusable bag!’ We hope that some of them will join the campaign voluntarily.”

Greenrock also said it plans to work with the Department of Tourism to offer all arriving tourists an attractive reusable bag, which will allow them to avoid the charge.

A spokeswoman said: “When they reuse this souvenir at home, it will promote Bermuda as a tourist destination, and also brand Bermuda as a forward-thinking, environmentally-aware country.”

The campaign is set to kick off with a series of public service announcements on the radio to educate consumers starting Monday.

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

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Published April 19, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 19, 2013 at 12:46 am)

Shopping bag fee on the way?

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