Mexico City bans single-use plastic items as capital’s disposable consumption overflows
08 Jan 2021 --- Mexico City has kicked off the new year with a ban on certain single-use plastic packaging, following a year-long preparation.
Since January 1, 2021, the commercialization, distribution and delivery of some products made entirely or partially of plastics, designed for disposal after a single use, except those that are compostable, have been prohibited.
The ban includes plastic forks, knives, spoons, mixer sticks, plates, straws, cotton swabs, balloons and balloon sticks, cups and their lids, trays to transport food and tampon applicators.
“The ban’s main objective is to achieve responsible consumption, where the people of the capital stop using single-use plastics and generating pollution to the city and the planet,” says Andrée Lilian Guigue Pérez, general director of Environmental Impact Assessment and Regulation [translated from Spanish].
Last year alone, Mexico City produced around 13,000 tons of garbage per day, according to the capital’s environmental agency.
With an UN-estimated population of over 21.5 million in 2018, Mexico City is the fifth most populous city globally. In 1960, the beginning of the plastics era, it was just over 5 million.
Reasons for the ban
Although plastics may facilitate everyday consumption, their irresponsible use has caused grave consequences to the environment and living beings.
Excessive single-use plastic consumption obstructs canals, irrigation and sewage systems, creating high costs in the capital’s waste management and confinement departments.
The city is also confronted with increased pressure on its healthcare system. Generated from plastic packaging, Mexico City’s Secretary of Environment (Sedema) warns microplastics that enter the body can release toxins that damage the nervous system, the digestive tract, arteries and the reproductive system.
According to Sedema, capital residents consume around 2,000 microplastics every week, equivalent to 21 g per month.
Urging citizen support
To ensure a smooth transition, Sedema visited 1,432 restaurants and foodservice establishments from July to December 11, 2020 to raise sufficient awareness of the impact caused by these products ahead of the ban taking effect.
Last year, a total of 54 inspection tours were conducted in which 174 warnings were issued to premises that did not comply with the regulations.
Initially, the focus is on consumer education, but there have been concerns that without the imposition of fines, a complete end to single-use plastic waste is not likely.
Deutsche Welle reports the city also produces more than 7 million tons of plastic per year. Around 48 percent of it is used for packaging and while much of it is recyclable, a lot of the materials do not end up being recycled.
By Anni Schleicher
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