"Now that Government's seen why we want to eliminate plastic bags, we'd like to reignite the idea," said Greenrock president Andrew Vaucrosson, explaining how similar plans in 2008 had foundered on the issue of different grocery chains wanting their own branding for the eco-friendly bags.

The idea of banning certain products, first raised in the Throne Speech, was later expanded upon by Government as a possible complete ban on plastic bags in stores, groceries and food outlets.

Pointing out that paper bags are often worse than plastic, Mr Vaucrosson said Greenrock hoped to get all the Island's stores using the same durable fabric bag, to drive down costs.

"If everybody took on the bag, we might bring its cost down to 50 cents a bag. Not just grocery chains but small grocery stores, small North Hamilton retailers. Think about the global statement Bermuda would make if we got rid of plastic bags, if everybody participated and we could team up with Government."

The group originally envisaged regular competition between local artists to come up with a design for the bags, which might even become souvenir items.

Mr Vaucrosson said a major US distributor of paper and plastic bags to Bermuda showed interest in the generic bag, but that in meetings with the Chamber of Commerce's Grocery Division, the idea appeared to fall apart.

"The unfortunate thing was the bias towards each creating their own branded bags," he said.

Now, faced with the possibility of an across-the-board ban on plastic shopping bags, the group hopes local retailers will embrace the idea of a generic bag with an aesthetic or Bermuda-specific graphic, rather than individual logos.

Mr Vaucrosson said: "What was important at the time was just getting the bags used. But our concern was also being able to deliver them in volume. Some big grocery chains could afford the bags and smaller ones couldn't."

A generic bag would also prove economically sustainable for a supplier servicing the Island, giving Bermuda the best options in terms of materials and designs. It would also allow Government to have a central means for tracking the use of reusable bags.

Although the plan remains a work in progress, Greenrock hopes for an exchange programme at any shop or grocery store, and regular competitions to engage the community in coming up with new designs for the reusable bags.


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