Quantcast

Chile Bans Plastic Bags in 100+ Coastal Areas

Popular
Fish can mistake plastic trash for food and can ingest it with fatal consequences. NOAA

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a bill Wednesday that prohibits the sale of single-use plastic bags in 102 coastal villages and towns in a bid to stop the build-up of ocean plastic and to "[take] care of our marine ecosystems."

An estimated eight million tons of plastic trash gets dumped into our oceans each year, literally choking marine life, harming ocean ecosystems and threatening the larger food chain.


Businesses found using and distributing plastic bags could face a US$300 fine, Telesur reported about the legislation.

In addition to banning plastic bags, the Chilean government plans to create 1.6 million square kilometers of marine conservation areas by 2018, AFP reported. The bill also welcomes non-coastal areas to join in the program to restrict or eliminate plastic bags.

"Our fish are dying from plastics ingestion or strangulation—it's a task in which everyone must collaborate," Bachelet said in a speech at the beach resort city of Pichilemu.

According to the Environment Ministry (via Bloomberg BNA), Chile goes through more than 3.4 billion plastic bags per year, with 97 percent ending up in landfills, becoming illegally dumped, or ending up in oceans.

"We will ... become the first country in the Americas to implement a law of this type and we call on other countries to assume this responsibility," Bachelet said last month at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Bloomberg BNA also noted that 50 of Chile's 345 municipal districts have already regulated plastic bag usage to some degree, including banning shops from providing plastic bags, limiting the number of bags a customer can receive, or encouraging stores to switch to reusable bags.

Environmental advocates praised the ban. "We hope that parliamentarians will support this initiative which is good for the country," said Ricardo Bosshard, the head of World Wildlife Fund Chile.

On social media, many cheered the move with the hashtag #chaobolsasplásticas, or "bye plastic bags."

Enrique Peña Nieto, the President of Mexico, thanked Bachelet for her work and said that Mexico will join Chile in the effort to protect the biodiversity of our seas.

Erik Solheim, the head of the United Nations Environment Program tweeted, "Great news from Chile! A ban plastic bags in over 100 coastal areas!"

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Investing in grid infrastructure would enable utilities to incorporate modern technology, making the grid more resilient and flexible. STRATMAN2 / FLICKR

By Elliott Negin

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' recent decision to award the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to scientists who developed rechargeable lithium-ion batteries reminded the world just how transformative they have been. Without them, we wouldn't have smartphones or electric cars. But it's their potential to store electricity generated by the sun and the wind at their peak that promises to be even more revolutionary, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and protecting the planet from the worst consequences of climate change.

Read More Show Less
Two Javan rhinos deep in the forests of Ujung Kulon National Park, the species' last habitat on Earth. Sugeng Hendratno / WWF

By Basten Gokkon

The global population of the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros has increased to 72 after four new calves were spotted in the past several months.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A tiger looks out from its cage at a new resort and zoo in the eastern Lao town of Tha Bak on Dec. 5, 2018. Karl Ammann believes the "zoo" is really a front for selling tigers. Terrence McCoy / The Washington Post / Getty Images

Are tigers extinct in Laos?

That's the conclusion of a detailed new study that found no evidence wild tigers still exist in the country.

Read More Show Less

A group of scientists is warning that livestock production must not expand after 2030 for the world to stave off ecological disaster.

Read More Show Less
The largest wetland in Africa is in the South Sudan. George Steinmetz / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images Plus

Methane emissions are a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – about 28 times more powerful. And they have been rising steadily since 2007. Now, a new study has pinpointed the African tropics as a hot spot responsible for one-third of the global methane surge, as Newsweek reported.

Read More Show Less