Two state legislators presented an initiative Thursday that would see establishments fined starting in 2020 if they fail to provide biodegradable plastic bags, containers and cups to their customers.
Non-biodegradable straws would also be outlawed under the new law.
The proposal drawn up by María de Lourdes Martínez Pizano and Verónica Magdalena Jiménez Vázquez provides for “reprimands” to be handed out to Jalisco businesses not complying with the measure as of January 1, 2019, with the full force of the law implemented one year later.
“We are not just looking at prohibition but also at generating economic incentives to replace plastic bags, (styrofoam/unicel) containers, cups and straws,” Jiménez Vázquez said.
The new regulation would affect supermarkets, stores, cafes and restaurants throughout Jalisco.
The one-year “trial” period would provide ample time for environmentally friendly products to be developed and marketed, while also educating the general public on the important issue, she said.
Both legislators said there is a clamor on the part of many environmentally conscious citizens for measures to be taken regarding the use of plastic.
In 2016, a group of middle school teens from the American School of Guadalajara devised a proposal to limit the use of plastic bags. It was taken up by independent legislator Pedro Kumamoto. Although the students went to present their initiative in the State Congress in August of that year, it failed to get traction and Kumamoto eventually stood down to run for the Mexican Senate. Their efforts, however, may have been key to galvanizing Martínez Pizano and Jiménez Vázquez – both from the Citizens Movement (MC) – into action.
Jiménez Vázquez highlighted several products that are already available on the Mexican market, including Mexican company BIOFASE’s biodegradable straws made out of avocado seeds, and bioplastic bags made from renewable resources such as corn starch.
The bill will first be discussed in various legislative committees before being sent to the floor of the State Congress.
The move follows that of Juan José Cuevas García, a city councilor in Puerto Vallarta, who recently presented the city council with an initiative that calls for a gradual transition to the use of biodegradables and subsequent prohibition of some plastic products in all commercial establishments in the port.
It was recently reported that the collection of plastic afloat in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate. According to a new scientific estimate, a build-up of about 80,000 tons of plastic in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” between California and Hawaii has been recorded. And the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in California and the University of Georgia have estimated that up to ten million tons of plastic enter oceans each year.
Although much has been written and discussed about the impact of plastic pollution on the world’s oceans, many scientists believe more attention should be paid to the issue of contaminated rivers, which transport much of the waste to the sea due to inadequate disposal and handling of landfill, industrial and general wastes.