The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Chile Bans Plastic Bags in 100+ Coastal Areas
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."
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
In a new report about how the world's coral reefs face "the combined threats of climate change, pollution, and overfishing" — endangering the future of marine biodiversity — a London-based nonprofit calls for greater global efforts to end the climate crisis and ensure the survival of these vital underwater ecosystems.
The world is using up more and more resources and global recycling is falling. That's the grim takeaway from a new report by the Circle Economy think tank, which found that the world used up more than 110 billion tons, or 100.6 billion metric tons, of natural resources, as Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
By George Citroner
- Recent research finds that official government figures may be underestimating drug deaths by half.
- Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016.
- Drug use decreases life expectancy after age 15 by 1.4 years for men and by just under 1 year for women, on average.
Government records may be severely underreporting how many Americans die from drug use, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.