This year, the ban of single use carryout bags went into effect for Guam. According to the new public law, retail and all wholesale establishments are no longer allowed to offer for sale or distribute disposable carryout bags. But there still seems to be some confusion in the community about what bags are permissible and whether businesses are allowed to give out what's left in stock. Guam Environmental Protection Agency's  Nic Lee helped clarify the details.

"If that bag does not meet the uh I'm sorry the HDPE or the biodegradable or the compostable component that's spelled out in the law, so it doesn't meet those requirements as of the the new year they're not able to use those for distribution at all," he said. 

The EPA is charged with enforcement of the bag ban and will be meeting with the board of directors at the regularly scheduled January board meeting to iron out details such as the definition of biodegradable and the compostability of bags. Penalties for violating the bag ban range anywhere from $500-$10,000 depending on the frequency of violation and If an establishment receives a notice of violation for breaking the ban, they have the opportunity to appeal.

"Part of that process involves the board so this is gonna work well for us so we have a clear guidance on how we're going to enforce this within the community and at the same time preserve the businesses due process," Lee said.

The non-biodegradable bag ban is part of a bigger picture to protect our land and oceans including limiting the amount of plastic going into our island's landfill. It's the first step in the phasing out of the use of all plastic and paper bags for most retail and all wholesale establishments. Once the clock strikes midnight of 2022, also in effect: the ban on all plastic bags, including compostable, biodegradable, and those designated as high density polyethylene bags. Later, that same year, July 1st, 2022, Paper carry-out bags will also be banned except for food service establishments. For more information, go to