The supermarkets and small businesses in Panama have six months from today to stop offering their customers free disposable plastic bags under a pioneering law in Central America that seeks to promote the use of reusable bags.
The Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition Authority (Acodeco) explained in a statement that the wholesale stores, however, will have a year to adapt to the law.
The institution, which will monitor the performance of the law and put fines on those businesses that do not comply, recalled that merchants will be able to charge the new bags to their customers.
"In case you decide to apply charges to consumers, the Acodeco will inspect it at cost," he recalled in the same statement.
Panama approved in January 2018 an unprecedented law in the region, which prohibits the use of polyethylene bags in any type of commercial establishment and which seeks to replace them with less polluting alternatives such as biodegradable, cardboard, cloth or plastic bags. thread.
Polyethylene bags, a type of highly polluting plastic, take almost 400 years to decompose, while biodegradable bags disappear in just 25 or 30 years, according to experts.
The Parliament of the Central American country has also been discussing for months an initiative to regulate the use of expanded polystyrene, a plastic known in Panama as "foam", which is used mainly as a food container.
The UN estimates that 8 million tons of plastic are dumped each year in the seas, equivalent to pouring a truck full of plastic per minute, and that 1 million birds and 1,000 sea turtles die as a result of this pollution annually.
The international organization calculates that, if things continue that way, by 2050 there will be more plastics than fish in the oceans.