Chile: 'goodbye plastic bags'

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Since February 3, the Law that prohibits large supermarket and retail chains from handing out plastic bags to their customers came into force

Chile: 'goodbye plastic bags'

"A small step for man, a great leap for humanity". Adjusted or not, the phrase of the American astronaut Neil Armstrong when he stepped on the moon for the first time in 1969, the elimination of bags in supermarkets and retail in Chile becomes a breakthrough to protect the environment.

Leer en español: Chile: ‘adiós bolsas plásticas’

With surprise for tourists who are vacationing on Chilean beaches, on February 3 began to rule this throughout the country. This, to try to protect the fauna and flora of the country, in addition to the more than 6 thousand kilometers of coastline bathed by the Pacific Ocean.

But not everything is happiness, the businessmen who live on the 't-shirt' type bags, those common plastic bags that they deliver when a purchase is made, announced that they have been affected in the last months, so much so that they were in the obligation to reduce jobs.

How does it benefit the environment?

Chile becomes the first country in Latin America to ban plastic bags since February 3 in supermarkets and retail, while medium and small entrepreneurs will have until August 3, 2020, to stop using them. It is worth mentioning that the bags for garbage are still valid.

The Chilean government was emphatic in taking out of the trade plastic bags type 'shirt' due to the indiscriminate use of the same since it is estimated that 3,400 million of these are used per year, on average 200 per person and of which 90 percent goes to landfills and to the sea.

The measure was well received by Chileans, since 95 percent of those who were part of the national survey of the Environment in 2018 were in favor, from Arica to Punta Arenas, being aware that for the manufacture of these takes a minute, but it lasts more than 400 years to degrade.

Those who lose

The bag industry in Chile felt the implementation of the measure in their pockets, as they move around 60 million dollars a year, corresponding to more than 25 thousand tons of this kind of bags.

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"The initial effect was chaotic. We had to renegotiate with banks; the sale fell between 20% and 25%; We had to fire people. Our worksheet went from 150 to 130 people. That for any company is complex (...) Only for us has meant a loss of $ 300 million pesos per month (USD 450 thousand)", told Claudio Morales, commercial manager of Plásticos Mendoza, a supplier of large supermarkets, pharmacies and pharmacies, retail, among others of Chile, to a local media.

The truth is that companies will have to reinvent themselves, while some companies returned to paper and supermarkets and retail offer reusable bags, cloth or biodegradable, ranging between 2 and 5 dollars. Of course, others took advantage of the 'boom' of free reusable bags that were delivered by the big brands that were in favor of the regulations.


LatinAmerican Post | Jorge Hernández

Translated from "Chile: "adiós bolsas plásticas"