Bottle bill still not fully implemented
by Krystal Paco
Guam - The legislation may have passed three years ago, but roadblocks continue to keep the Guam Beverage Container Recycling Act of 2010 from full implementation. Going green is going to need green to get started.
"There was no funding mechanism right now to implement the program, so the intent is to borrow the money from the Recycling Revolving Fund, which is the $25 that you pay every year for your vehicle registration," said Guam Environmental Protection Agency special projects coordinator Sabrina Cruz Sablan. She explained that the Mayors Council of Guam currently uses this funding for their Abandoned Vehicle Program, adding, "That fund generates approximately I would say around $2.4 million to $2.6 million annually. In that law, we're supposed to get 3% to hire one full time employee and that one full-time employee is me."
Sablan and Guam EPS staff including Solid Waste Program manager Roland Gutierrez recently visited Hawaii to observe their HI-5 Beverage Container Redemption Program. There, Gutierrez learned Hawaii's program suffered from a locked rate. "In the beginning it was fine because the handling fees were within the range of the 1.5 cents, but as the years have gone by gas has gone up," he said. "Fuel consumption is part of the transferring of the bottles back and forth and the recyclables, so this day now they're paying $0.02 in Oahu for handling fees and $0.03 in the outer islands."
Gutierrez says Guam should follow after California's fluctuating rate as the state conducts a market study every two years to determine handling fees which may also be affected by the distance to redemption centers, which Guam still doesn't have. She said, "Currently we don't have any redemption centers because there is no program in place but we do have recycling centers. Recycling centers only pay for the aluminums, Pyramid accepts plastics but they don't pay; but at least we divert it out of the landfill."
Gutierrez added, "There's a minimum distance for each of the redemption centers what it states is that if there's no redemption center in this area than the largest retailer of beverages in that area must have a redemption center...if I have to drive to Agana from Merizo or Agat to Harmon to dropoff my cans, I'm not going to do it its part of their law. And that's something else we're going to add to our law."
Author of the "Bottle Bill" Senator Tina Muna Barnes understands a greener Guam isn't going to happen overnight and says she continues to support the green mission. "The ultimate goal is to keep the trash out of the landfill to make sure we have a cleaner, greener, and healthier Guam," she stated. "If there's legislation that is needed to strengthen the law that's in place today, then those things will be done accordingly."