To the Honorable Ministers of the Environment, Economic Development, and Public Works, and to your Cabinet colleagues. The time is right for Bermuda to reduce their demand of single-use bags. These bags are a source of litter, a drain on the economy, and potentially a health hazard. One in four countries charge for single-use bags. Greenrock, supported by the Bermuda Marine Debris Task Force, believes that Bermuda, with its limited resources and fragile environment, has more reasons than most countries to join this global initiative.
We are asking you and your colleagues in cabinet to legislate to require Bermuda businesses to charge for single-use bags used by consumers at the point of sale.
Why a charge and not a ban?
. A charge has been shown to reduce usage by up to 90% and therefore goes a very long way to solving the environmental and waste reduction issues
. A charge forces consumers to stop and think, therefore raising awareness (a ban does not present consumers with a decision)
. Bags are still available for tourists, spontaneous shoppers or those who want them for reuse at home.
. Many stores sell reusable bags so customers already have a choice
. A charge could raise money for environmental education or remediation.
We have approached all the major grocery stores on the island and there is conceptual support for the charge. Retailers like the fact they will save money by not having to import the disposable bags, while also doing their bit for the environment. However, many believe if they go it alone it will be a competitive disadvantage and will therefore only work if the charge is legally mandated for all.
We propose that the legislation follow the successful model used in DC, USA:
. Require any business that sells food or alcohol to charge 25c for disposable paper or plastic bags at the point of purchase. This charge must be a separate line item on the receipt to allow for tracking and enforcement.
. No charge will be levied on packaging material such as pharmacy bags, packing for fruit and vegetables, or meat and dairy, pre-packaged bags, take-away food packaging etc.
. 10c of the charge would be retained by the retailer as incentive. 15c of the charge would be collected by the government (quarterly along with other taxes) and would go into a restricted fund to be used to support environmental and sustainability initiatives. This fund would initially be used to pay for the public education campaign to support the charge.
. All disposable bags would be required to have a message printed on the side to reinforce the campaign to reduce waste.
We believe that you understand the issues and will support this initiative.
We thank you for taking the time to hear us, and look forward to improving sustainability in Bermuda and safeguarding the environment for the benefit of us all.