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On the Banning of Plastic Bags and Disposable Plastic / Styrofoam Cutlery /Serving Items, and Single-Use Plastics

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Costa Rica launches quest to replace most single-use plastic by 2021

 

L. Arias   3 days ago
 
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Costa Rica seeks to be free of single-use plastic, and top officials including President Luis Guillermo Solís disclosed the details of a national strategy to achieve that goal during a public event to celebrate the World Environment Day on Monday.

Officials from the Environment Ministry (MINAE), the Public Health Ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) outlined the strategy to replace the consumption of plastic products with those manufactured with renewable and compostable materials.

The main objective is that, by 2021, at least 80 percent of the country’s public agencies, municipalities and businesses replace their disposable plastic packaging with materials that have a lower environmental impact. MINAE announced at the event that it has already ordered all its departments to purchase only products made from renewable, compostable and biodegradable materials.

Health Minister María Esther Anchía said that Costa Rica generates 4,000 tons of waste every day. Of these, 11 percent correspond to plastics that end up in rivers that carry them to the sea.

“Plastic bottles, for example: Ticos discard 1.5 million bottles every day,” Anchía said.

Non-governmental organizations including the Costa Rica USA Foundation for Cooperation and MarViva, as well as the National Chamber of Retailers, have already joined the plan and are publicly supporting its actions.

One use, lasting impact

Environment Vice Minister Fernando Mora said at the event that the strategy does not represent an attack to any private-sector market.

“What [the plan] does is to promote better disposal of solid waste under a national recycling strategy and to offer our citizens alternative packaging materials,” he said.

The strategy focuses on the consumption of single-use plastic, which takes hundreds of years to break down. This includes plastic bags from retail stores or supermarkets, straws, coffee stirrers, bottles and other containers.

Mora said that this kind of waste represents a threat to modern societies, and that the lack of adequate disposal and management of these materials is endangering marine resources.

“Recent studies from international agencies estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea,” the Vice Minister said.

The initiative calls on Costa Ricans to replace single-use plastics with non-petroleum renewable, marine biodegradable and compostable materials.

This means that products should biodegrade within six months — even in a marine environment — and transform into compost, the first stage in the biodegradation of all organic matter.

For more information, visit the campaign website,  www.zonalibredeplastico.org, which includes a database of companies in Costa Rica offering renewable and compostable products. It also allows individuals or companies to register their own products or companies for the campaign.

See a UNDP video of the campaign (in Spanish only):

 

http://www.ticotimes.net/2017/06/06/costa-rica-plastic-replacing

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Panama Just One Step Away from Banning Disposable Plastic Bags

aprobarse-prohibicion-desechables-Panama-FotoIlustrativa_MEDIMA20170809_0030_31.jpg.60afc0d22581d32c7d758c0de6708986.jpg

The National Assembly approved on Tuesday in the second of three debates, a bill that will prohibit the use of disposable plastic bags and will promote the use of reusable packaging in commercial establishments throughout the country.

Project 492 states that the establishments will proceed to progressive replacement of the bags prohibited by those non-polluting material or reusable plastic within various deadlines, 12 months for supermarkets, pharmacies and retail, informed the Assembly said in a statement.

The promoter of the initiative, Samir Gozaine, recently told EFE that plastic bags represent 20% of the solid waste that are generated in Panama and that take more than 400 years to decompose in the environment, in contrast to the 25 or 30 that are biodegradable.

The Authority of Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition (Acodeco) would be the institution responsible for ensuring compliance with the rule and the funds collected from fines would be destined for recycling programs, in accordance with the project.

The merchants will have the possibility of charging the new bags to its customers, in accordance with the project.

The project provides for the dissemination of awareness campaigns for the community with regard to the benefits of reducing the use of disposable plastic bags and incorporate the coercive element for traders.

The proposal arose from the members of the Miguel Fanovich And Gozaine, the first of the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement and the second of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) said in its statement.

Un Environment Program estimates that each year are dumped in the seas 8 million tons of plastic and a recent scientific study indicates that the volume of production of this material in the last few decades has caused a type of virtually irreversible pollution in the world.

http://www.telemetro.com/nacionales/aprobarse-prohibicion-plasticas-desechables-Panama_0_1051995860.html

freetranslation

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I find it convenient using these plastic bags from the grocery store while cooking.  I'll use several for food waste, eggs shells, bones, vegetable peelings, etc., all to be placed in a larger trash bag in a can for pickup.  Will it be illegal to use these privately in your home?  Where can these bags be purchased in bulk?  I've never looked for them at Pricesmart.

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11 hours ago, Siempre Soluciones said:

I find it convenient using these plastic bags from the grocery store while cooking.  I'll use several for food waste, eggs shells, bones, vegetable peelings, etc., all to be placed in a larger trash bag in a can for pickup.  Will it be illegal to use these privately in your home?  Where can these bags be purchased in bulk?  I've never looked for them at Pricesmart.

Price Smart sells many types of plastic bags, including boxes of the type used to pack groceries.  The Chinese grocery stores all sell them too, of various sizes and colors.

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9 hours ago, JudyS said:

Price Smart sells many types of plastic bags, including boxes of the type used to pack groceries.  The Chinese grocery stores all sell them too, of various sizes and colors.

Judy,

Thanks, that's good to know.  As Keith mentioned, the whole idea is not to use conventional plastic bags however the retail industry refused to switch to the biodegradable ones due to cost hence the bill.  I'm curious as to how much more they are.

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There is a related topic that was started by Dottie Atwater last April. It is not appropriate to merge Dottie's topic with this one. For those with an interest in reading more about this global environmental issue, you may want to read:

 

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1 hour ago, Siempre Soluciones said:

Judy,

Thanks, that's good to know.  As Keith mentioned, the whole idea is not to use conventional plastic bags however the retail industry refused to switch to the biodegradable ones due to cost hence the bill.  I'm curious as to how much more they are.

Presumably, if and when plastic bags are banned for use, they also will be banned from sale. Those who rely on plastic bags for any purpose will have to switch to biodegradable bags.

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Taken to its logical conclusion, garbage and wastebasket bags will be banned, also.  Kitchen waste, cat poop, used hygiene products, etc., all just loose.  Buy lots of buckets and fly spray. 

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27 minutes ago, Uncle Doug said:

Taken to its logical conclusion, garbage and wastebasket bags will be banned, also.  Kitchen waste, cat poop, used hygiene products, etc., all just loose.  Buy lots of buckets and fly spray. 

It's disgusting to contemplate, isn't it? This ban will probably never happen, as most things proposed or threatened here never happen.

Edited by JudyS

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24 minutes ago, Uncle Doug said:

Taken to its logical conclusion, garbage and wastebasket bags will be banned, also.  Kitchen waste, cat poop, used hygiene products, etc., all just loose.  Buy lots of buckets and fly spray. 

Aw c'mon, Doug. Innovation will create more environmentally friendly alternatives.

I knew a young scientist once who was working on creating photo-degradable material for condoms because so many flush through the system and out to a body of water somewhere. Hopefully she and her team were successful.

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Don't forget that there is a biodegradable plastic. It's going to cost more, but that's a small price to pay, IMO. And because it will cost more, people will learn of better ways to handle most of their trash and garbage.

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59 minutes ago, JudyS said:

This ban will probably never happen, as most things proposed or threatened here never happen.

National Assembly Approves Bill in Final Debate that Prohibits Use of Plastic Bags in Shops

The plenary session of the National Assembly (AN) approved this Thursday in the third and final debate the draft Law N°492, which prohibits the use of plastic bags in the shops and adopts measures to promote the use of reusable bags.

The proposal is that establishments will proceed to the progressive replacement of the prohibited bags, by non-polluting material containers or reusable plastic. The supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers will have a period of 12 months to set up the new policy of bags, while warehouses and wholesalers shall have a period of 24 months.

Traders will be able to opt for the collection or not of the bags, however the Authority of Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition (Acodeco), must ensure that shops comply with the standard and that reusable bags are sold at cost.

In addition, it will promote community campaigns, in general, to raise awareness of the benefits of reducing the use of disposable plastic bags.

The project was presented by Assembly members Samir Gozaine, President of the Commission, and Miguel Fanovich.

According to Gozaine, there already exists technology for the manufacture of bags. He explained that it is a material that will biodegrade in three or four days, with only the touch of the environment.

He added that countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica and Spain have already implemented the system.

http://www.telemetro.com/nacionales/Pleno-proyecto-prohibe-plasticas-comercios_0_1052595277.html

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I've said before that biodegradable bags are the answer, but unless they are available and affordable, it's not going to work. In 1990, California mandated zero emission vehicles to replace gas and diesel engines. 10% of all new vehicles sold in 2003 had to be ZEV.

It didn't work, of course.  

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I truly believe that Panama brought this law on themselves by instructing the bag boys to use a separate bag for almost every item. It's ridiculous. The ones who will suffer are the charity patio sales. People buy multiple items there and the sales usually collect plastic bags right along with the donated sales items.

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Up in Potrerillos there is a dreary annual trash collection from the sides of the road.  The trash is put in plastic bags then left, forever, on the side of the road until it either degrades or some cowboy runs it over.  Plastic bags are not the main problem, trash dumping is.  Although, if the garbage bags were degradable, then at least the trash would meld back into the grass that much faster.

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14 hours ago, Uncle Doug said:

1990, California mandated zero emission vehicles to replace gas and diesel engines. 10% of all new vehicles sold in 2003 had to be ZEV.

It didn't work because the majority of the members on the California Air Resources Board were appointed and came from backgrounds in the oil and automotive industry.

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I read the proposed law to be targeted at retail stores and distributors, which would therefore not impact the use of conventional trash bags for refuse collection and disposal. That will probably come along in the future.

The adaptation by merchants and consumers to the new regulation will likely attract unintended consequences, and we should expect the outcomes to be funny/sad.

One of the factors attracting expats to settle in Panama may be desire to escape the proliferation of rules regulating the details of daily life, such as this proposed law is designed to do. Almost all new laws cause the expansion of bureaucracies, and this one is unlikely to be an exception.

 

 

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Who's responsible for the global scourge of disposable plastic bags? The usual suspects.

" By the end of 1985, 75 percent of supermarkets were offering plastic bags to their customers. Customers still preferred paper bags—plastic held just 25 percent of the market—but Mobil was working to change that.

"The last stronghold is the grocery sack bag," an executive told the Los Angeles Times, "and now we are going after that."    Within the next decade, the plastic bag had captured 80 percent of the market."

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/10/how-the-plastic-bag-became-so-popular/381065/

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34 minutes ago, Keith Woolford said:

Who's responsible for the global scourge of disposable plastic bags? The usual suspects.

" By the end of 1985, 75 percent of supermarkets were offering plastic bags to their customers. Customers still preferred paper bags—plastic held just 25 percent of the market—but Mobil was working to change that.

"The last stronghold is the grocery sack bag," an executive told the Los Angeles Times, "and now we are going after that."    Within the next decade, the plastic bag had captured 80 percent of the market."

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/10/how-the-plastic-bag-became-so-popular/381065/

The global scourge is what the consumer does with the plastic bag and how it is disposed of and what is done with it after use.   I have a hard time laying the blame of plastic bags everywhere at the hands of the companies making them.   The user is responsible for its use and what is done with it after that point.   The consumer does have choices and responsibility.

The problem in Panama is much larger than just plastic bags.   The problem is within the culture itself and both laws and education need to address it.   Plastic bags are not outlawed in neighboring countries, yet you do not see them blowing in the wind and being tossed out car windows.    In my opinion it is too easy to point the finger at oil companies or manufactures and declare they are responsible.   Educate your  population, put incentives in place for collection and recycling.   Change the throw-away culture and create responsible consumers.   Other countries have done it successfully, Panama could do it too.

Edited by Twin Wolf Technology Group

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Supermarkets in the U.S. all have bins for recycling your plastic bags.  I've never seen such bins here.  Now our one recycling center has disappeared, and who knows when and if it will re-open.  When REAL Boquete was operating next to Ana's Sweets, school kids were being taught about recycling.  It was a good start, now probably a dead project.  Twin Wolf is right, creating responsible consumers is the way to go.  I'm always happy when a cruise ship passenger, who observes the ship dumping waste into the ocean, reports it and the ship gets fined.  Not much of an impact, but better than nothing.  Getting 7 billion people to care is a big job.

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