A gradual goodbye to plastic bags and straws in Yucatan

Ban will require a cultural shift, officials admit

Some plastics in Yucatan will be phased out under a new state law. Photo: Getty

Merica, Yucatan — Gov. Mauricio Vila this week signed a bill that enacts a gradual ban on plastic bags and straws in Yucatan.

The measure was promoted as part of a waste management program called “Towards a Yucatan With Zero Waste.”

Styrofoam was not mentioned in the announcement.

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The plan includes training 115 public officials from 26 municipalities on the issue. Officials have already held meetings with the private sector on how to migrate away from polythene bags.

{ Related: Plastics phaseout moves ahead across Mexico }

The secretary of sustainable development, Sayda Rodríguez Gómez, said that each person in Yucatan produces an average of 1.75 pounds of plastic waste every day. Only 18 percent of plastics in Yucatan is recycled, she said.

An event announcing the program was attended by the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources of the Federal Government, Josefa González Blanco Ortiz Mena, who described the strategy as ambitious and modern.

Blanco Ortiz Mena stressed the need to address the issue as a cultural issue.

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The ban begins in 18 months, leaving time for education and preparation.

Two hours north of Mexico City, the industrial city of Queretaro was the first to ban plastic bags in April 2018.

The plastic bag ban there punishes local merchants who continue to provide disposable bags to their customers. Punishments varying from confiscation of the bags to a refusal to renew their business license.

A 2018 law in Mexico City gives authorities the power to fine retailers who give away plastic bags for free. The plastic bags, according to the law, must also be biodegradable.

The state of Jalisco and the border city of Tijuana also enacted plastic bans last year.

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