Chile: Government Bans Plastic Bags

Chile has become the first Latin American country to legally ban the widespread commercial use of plastic bags.

The new legislation, approved by Congress and enacted by President Sebastián Piñera, gives small shops two years to adapt to a total ban. Larger business will have six months to stop using plastic bags.

In the meantime they will only be allowed to hand out two carrier bags per customer. Businesses that break the rules will face a fine of US $370.

Mr Piñera said the new rules were a great step for a cleaner Chile. “We want to go from a throwaway culture, where everything is used and chucked away, to the healthy culture of recycling,” he said.

“There are 7.6 billion inhabitants in the world. We can’t continue polluting as if each one of us owned the Earth.”

He handed out reusable cloth bags at a ceremony marking the ban on Friday. The legislation was proposed by his predecessor, Michelle Bachelet, who banned the use of plastic bags in Chile’s Patagonia region.

Ecovia Intelligence Comment
The Chilean government is congratulated on this important move. A growing number of countries (including the UK) are making retailers charge for plastic bags. However, there needs to be greater adoption rates for renewable packaging materials and/ or multi-use plastic packaging. One hopes that more countries follow Chile’s lead and ban plastic bags.

Approaches to reduce the packaging impact of consumer products are regularly featured at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit and Sustainable Foods Summit.

Source: BBC / Ecovia Intelligence (03/08)