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On the Banning of Plastic Bags and Disposable Plastic / Styrofoam Cutlery and Serving Items

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JudyS    178

Without plastic bags, what am I going to do with the scooped cat poop?  How are dog walkers supposed to pick up the poop?  How are people supposed to throw away disposable diapers, just put them loose in the trash can?  And what lines the trash can - nothing, no bag to tie up the trash and put it in the canasta?  That is disgusting and unsanitary.  This would be an OK law if they replace all the bags with degradable ones, but will they?

Edited by JudyS
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Penny    174

This is wonderful news. I hate that they put every item you buy into a separate bag. I just returned from San Francisco, U.S. where plastic bags are totally banned. They offer you a paper bag for a dime.

The other interesting thing is that they raised the minimum wage to (I believe) $15/hour in San Francisco and as a consequence all of the restaurants we ate at added a 5% sur charge on the bill. The explanation for this sur charge was given in very small type at the bottom of the menu.

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Pederhaney    8
47 minutes ago, JudyS said:

Without plastic bags, what am I going to do with the scooped cat poop?  How are dog walkers supposed to pick up the poop?  How are people supposed to throw away disposable diapers, just put them loose in the trash can?  And what lines the trash can - nothing, no bag to tie up the trash and put it in the canasta?  That is disgusting and unsanitary.  This would be an OK law if they replace all the bags with degradable ones, but will they?

Probably not in commercial places, since the biodegradable bags cost more.  Or shift the cost onto the consumer with pricing increases.

 Perhaps they'll stock and sell them so that people dealing with poop and/or rubbish disposal are able to buy them for personal use.  And then it would snow on the top of Baru!

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Bud    119
2 hours ago, JudyS said:

Without plastic bags, what am I going to do with the scooped cat poop?  How are dog walkers supposed to pick up the poop?  How are people supposed to throw away disposable diapers, just put them loose in the trash can?  And what lines the trash can - nothing, no bag to tie up the trash and put it in the canasta?  That is disgusting and unsanitary.  This would be an OK law if they replace all the bags with degradable ones, but will they?

Biodegradable pooper duty bags are available at PriceSmart (and other stores in this area), at least when they are in inventory. See http://www.chiriqui.life/blogs/entry/158-pooper-duty-supplies/ for more information and pictures. The bad news here is that you have to pay for them.

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MarieElaine    27

These bags and plastic water bottles are the scourge of the earth.  I also hate those plastic rings they put on six packs of soda/beer.  Birds get caught in them and starve to death.  Please cut the rings so birds are not harmed.

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Uncle Doug    46

Biodegradable plastic  bags are the obvious solution. 120 days is nothing. Many leaves don't decompose that fast. Paper sacks sure don't. 

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Plastic bags — real problem, odd legislation

ehp.123-A34.g002-e1488279441926.jpg

Two real problems: plastic bag pollution and bad legal drafting

by Eric Jackson

Yes, it’s true. You don’t have to go too far to see the mess that plastic bags have made all over Panama. You can even be blind, sitting in your home in many parts of Panama and smell it, via the distinctive stench of burning plastic. There ought to be a law. In a growing number of places there are laws.

So, as a member of the National Assembly’s third-largest caucus, the Panameñista Party, perhaps Florentino Ábrego figures that it’s his big chance to do something that might make his constituents think of him as a wise statesman, perhaps even worthy of re-election. Et voila:

Capture-Title.jpg
So WHAT does the title of this proposed law suggest is to be done?

Actually, the law does not, as its title suggests, propose to REQUIRE the use of non-degradable plastic bags in supermarkets. Deputy Ábrego would like to, over a two-year period, mostly PROHIBIT the distribution of these materials. As published on the legislature’s website, it’s one of the classics of incompetent legal drafting in an institution renowned for its sloppy work.

Ábrego might reasonably argue that the errors will be corrected in the legislative process, but meanwhile he has raised an issue that needed to be raised in the hallowed halls of the legislative branch of government. Fair enough.

However, there a some questionable premises embedded in his proposal.

Is “the culture of recycling and responsible use in full development” in Panama? It may seem that way to Panamanians who have never been anywhere else, or have only been to places even more backward on this subject than we are. But try to recycle your steel fish cans — the metal truck only wants aluminum. Recycling is in its infancy in Panama and is anything but systematic. To the extent that reuse comes into the equation, plastic bags do get reused, especially during rainy season, by people who want to make sure that certain things in their knapsacks, purses or chacaras stay dry in a tropical cloudburst.

And is a biodegradable plastic bag that decomposes in a few months, or another sort of degradable bag that dissolves over the course of about a year, therefore harmless when it’s part of the debris clogging an urban storm drain or covering a coral reef?

In many jurisdictions, the biggest of them China, there are full or partial bans on the free distribution of plastic bags at stores. The Chinese boast of how much petroleum that would otherwise go into the production of such bags is saved. Some US jurisdictions that require a charge of a few cents for each bag justify it in terms of how much litter is reduced.

A lot of the plastic bags given away in Panamanians stores are already of the biodegradable or degradable sorts. Toss a bit of baking soda into the plastic-making mix and the bags will decompose much more quickly. You will see the effect in disintegrating plastic bags along the footpaths of small-town Panama. But you won’t be able to smell the difference when people are burning their garbage, much of which will be plastic.

When — and if — Ábrego’s proposal is the subject of public hearings, perhaps the interested parties who show up to testify will include those who would limit or ban plastic bag distribution, so as to restore the old culture of people bringing their own more durable bags or baskets when they go shopping. Perhaps Panama City’s street sweepers or parks maintenance people might be there to weigh in. Perhaps someone who thinks that the shift to degradable plastic bags is a good idea, and who is more competent at legal drafting than the scrivener of Ábrego’s proposal, would have some proposed amendments.

In any case, it does seem that the plastic bag issue is about to become the subject of public debate in Panama.

 

http://www.thepanamanews.com/2017/02/plastic-bags-real-problem-odd-legislation/

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Panama to Ban Use of Plastic Bags

The Assembly has approved in a first debate a bill that bansplastic bags in commercial establishments and promotes the use of reusable bags.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs at the National Assembly approved in a first debate Bill 492, which promotes the use and giving out of reusable bags in commercial establishments in the country.

See also : "Purchases and Sales of Plastic in Central America"

The president of the Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs, Samir Gozaine, explained that this is a very noble bill which, when implemented, will reduce the country's use of plastic by 20%. Other countries in the world have already put such a scheme in place (Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Spain, France and Italy, among others).

The objective of the bill is to promote the use of reusable bags in the country's stores and to ban the use of bags made of polyethylene.

To become law the project still has to be approved in second and third debate. 

 

http://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/Panama_to_Ban_Use_of_Plastic_Bags

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Bonnie    409
On 3/2/2017 at 0:29 PM, Uncle Doug said:

Biodegradable plastic  bags are the obvious solution. 120 days is nothing. Many leaves don't decompose that fast. Paper sacks sure don't. 

I agree. Bring you own bag, or pay for a biodegradable bag. It's a small sacrifice for the health of the planet.

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Penny    174

I agree. One small step we all can take is to decline the plastic bag at the check out counter. If that is impractical, tell them to pack more than one item in each bag.

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JohnF13    75

I agree that we should move to biodegradable plastic.  However, I still feel this a "feel good, looks like we are doing something" move.  You REALLY want to help the environment?  Get the smoke spewing cars off the roads and stop garbage and field burning.  Unfortunately, that will likely result in demonstrations, so it's not gonna happen.

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Keith Woolford    308

Plastic is a wonderful product but generations before us lived without it just fine. I'm all in favor of eliminating as much of the crap as possible, with the banning of plastic water and soft drink bottles coming right after bags.

We like picking up soft drinks and beer in returnable bottles by the case 'just like in the old days'.

1412067854975_wps_4_MANDATORY_BYLINE_PIC_FROM.thumb.jpg.5de62265d1f621c46091b1be821b5ed5.jpg

Surfer in Maldives

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near Colon, Panama

Edited by Keith Woolford
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Keith Woolford    308

Panama seeks to join in the world crusade against plastic bags

plastico-biodegradable-tardan-descomponerse-FotoAFP_MEDIMA20170507_0049_31.jpg.a2e1a7039609ca1b1af62bcdf05edf50.jpg

In a country like Panama, where businesses give out plastic bags and use two to carry a simple carton of milk (one inside the other), proposing a law to ban them and replace them with other biodegradable type is less daring.

"We have to understand that this plastic is not biodegradable and bags take 450 years to disappear. Today, 20 % of the plastic that is collected in Panama are bags," explained to EFE the deputy of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) Samir Gozaine.

Gozaine is one of the main drivers of the project of law 492, which was approved last April 27 in the Assembly, in the first of three debates, and that seeks to promote the reasonable use of the plastic bags and eliminate the current abuse.

"We would be the first country in Central America to have a law like this that is already in place in Europe and in some Latin American countries such as Colombia. The changes are difficult but it is a question of getting used to," says the politician.

The objective of the project is to replace the plastic bags by cleaner alternatives, such as biodegradable cartridges, cardboard, cloth or thread, so that the plastic consumption is reduced by up to 20 % in Panama.

"The biodegradable plastic bags takes only 25 or 30 years to decompose," Gozaine, who is convinced that the initiative will finally forward despite the fact that there are now some members against the proposal.

The supermarkets, pharmacies and small shops would have 12 months to adapt to the new regulations, while warehouses and wholesalers would be 24 months, and all would have the option of charging consumers the new biodegradable bags, according to the text approved in the first parliamentary debate.

The Authority of Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition would be the institution responsible for ensuring compliance with the rule and the funds collected from fines would be destined to recycling programs.

"When we concious that plastic is a global problem, we will seek to prohibit other products such as bottles", said the deputy.

According to the Partnership for the Conservation of Nature (ANCON), Panama, with its nearly 4 million inhabitants, is the country that generates more waste per capita in Latin America, Near 1.2 kilograms of waste per day per person, the vast majority of which is plastic.

The initiative has been very welcomed by environmentalists, who argue that it is necessary to the existence of legislation because, although the environmental campaigns have some effect, people "do not change on a voluntary basis," the director of ANCON, Rita Spadafora.

"It is a very wise idea. Most of the garbage that comes to our rivers and seas are plastic bags. Let us hope that the industry supports the idea and who understands that you have to do it for a greater good, that is the country," says Spadafora.

The activist, however, believes that the draft legislation has fallen short and that "FOAM" should also be covered, "a material highly polluting and difficult to collect because it breaks up in pieces."

Criticism of the project come mainly from merchants, who fear that it will raise the cost of the basic food basket and cause the closure of factories of plastics and, therefore, increase unemployment.

"It's crazy. Combating unemployment is more important than the environment," says the president of the Association of Merchants and distributors of food and similar ACOVIPA (Panama), Iván Ríos.

The merchant does not believe that the initiative is to be adopted at the end because "the interests of the plastic industry are very strong in Panama".

"Charging for bags is a custom that is in fashion in Europe and there it works because they have a much higher level of buying power than Latin America. The legislators think that we are like them and we are very different," said Rios

http://www.telemetro.com/nacionales/Panama-unirse-cruzada-mundial-plastico_0_1024097808.html

Edited by Keith Woolford
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Roger B    218
On 3/2/2017 at 8:21 AM, JudyS said:

Without plastic bags, what am I going to do with the scooped cat poop?  How are dog walkers supposed to pick up the poop?  How are people supposed to throw away disposable diapers, just put them loose in the trash can?  And what lines the trash can - nothing, no bag to tie up the trash and put it in the canasta?  That is disgusting and unsanitary.  This would be an OK law if they replace all the bags with degradable ones, but will they?

JudyS

Those are good questions.  That is the problem with our intelligent Diputados (senators).  They got inspired a night by the "new ideas" fairy and in order to justify they are working go next day to office with a law that has not beginning and end.

I work for a company that produce special products to make bags.  It is biodegradable and compostable. But this technology is still expensive and have some limitations.  Those changes proposed will create some initial problems for its implementation in Panama and of course increase in general prices.   It will be good for groceries stores where you can bring your reusable bags.  There is not any problem but there are other uses that must be thought deeply.

 

 

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MarieElaine    27

Perhaps paper bags should make a comeback.  We could use them for litter scooping I think.

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JimAndNena    21

The problem is not plastic bags. Or plastic bottles.

The government is ignoring the obvious problem which is the lack of sanitation services to efficiently collect all the garbage. This promotes a culture that makes it easier to toss garbage anywhere rather than dropping it in an overflowing trashcan that never gets collected.  Everyone has seen the piles of trash that ruin a view of an otherwise beautiful landscape.  The USA and its endless miles of highway systems was once lined with trash but by changing the public's mindset (and imposing heavy fines sometimes), the public largely got the message.

The tourist industry in Panama is a bigger part of the economy than the canal or the Free Trade Zone based on reports of those who track these things.  The government is planning on growing tourism to include "ecotourism and 'sun, sea, and sand'" activities but those won't do well unless the country can eliminate the garbage problem.

jim

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Agreed, plastic bags and bottles are a visible reminder of a much bigger problem.   Steps to curb their use may provide some small relief but until the overall problem is addressed, these are a kin to nothing more than putting band-aids on a broken leg.    Too soon you realize you are lame because you did not address the overall issue.

In my opinion, while the US managed to clean itself up to a great degree, thru heavy fines and public programs, I would tend to look at other Latin countries first.   In my visits to Medellin, Colombia I have been amazed at the cleanliness.   This is not due to heavy fines or aggressive enforcement.   Instead they have given their people an incentive.   There are recycling centers that pay good money to those bringing in cans, bottles, cardboard and other material.   It is common to see large carts on the street bringing things to the recycle centers.   Trash collection in the city parks is manually separated into various types of recyclables before being picked up.  The program works a bit too well at times as now some of the very poor search out trash receptacles for the value of the recyclables.  

Changing a negative into a positive and effecting the desired change is just plain smart.   It is difficult to change a behavior that has been set over time.   In my opinion, trying to do it with laws and enforcement is very difficult if not near impossible task.   Give the people a reason not to throw that trash out the window, give it value on a large scale and watch the behavior change.  Combine that with education in the schools so the young do not follow the cultural path of the past and you have a winning combination that actually fixes that broken leg before becoming lame.

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Keith Woolford    308

Use of Plastic and Foam in Restaurants in Bocas del Toro now Regulated

Regulan-plastico-restaurantes-Bocas-Toro_MEDIMA20170608_0088_31.jpg.de6f979eb93becfd4a1a9d65cfb82a85.jpg

With the rapid increase in the volume of waste in the district of Bocas del Toro and the lack of adequate spaces for disposal, the Municipal Council has decided to regulate the use of foam packaging in restaurants.

Agreement N°004, promulgated this Thursday in the Official Gazette, prohibits the use of plastic cutlery and glasses, and plastic or foam plates when foods are for consumption on the premises.

The document warns the owners of establishments that in "in the immediate future" the intention is to extend this prohibition to the sale of food to take away.

Those who fail to comply with this provision will face sanctions.

Plastic pollution and foam is one of the main environmental problems, represents the 80% of the garbage of the oceans. The time of degradation depends on the type of plastic, and for the above mentioned products ranges from 65 to 400 years.

Cuadro-degradacion-plastico_MEDIMA20170608_0089_31.jpg.9fbb02155161f4186d4418179b933f91.jpg

http://www.telemetro.com/nacionales/Regulan-plastico-restaurantes-Bocas-Toro_0_1033697100.html

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Bud    119
4 hours ago, Keith Woolford said:

<snip, snip>

The document warns the owners of establishments that in "in the immediate future" the intention is to extend this prohibition to the sale of food to take away.

<snip, snip>

The way this is worded (i.e., use of the word "extend") means that take away (take out) food is soon to be banned.

Wow, seems Draconian.

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