Chile: betting everything on the environment

After the crisis that provoked the scandal of ​​Dominga, Michelle Bachelet prohibits the use of plastic bags in coastal zones of said country

Chile: betting everything on the environment

Leer en Español: Chile: todo por el medio ambiente

The president of Chile released a bill that makes the South American country the only one in the continent to prohibit the use of plastic bags in its coastal areas. For Bachelet, it is vital to protect the oceans and to create awareness within the population on the use of the materials.

The Chilean leader is emphatic on pointing out that, every year, 8 million tons of plastic arrive to the ocean and "[…] remain there for hundreds of years" and cause "a huge negative impact". According to the Head of State, the damage can be reflected on the crisis lived by marine animals that have seen their natural habitat threatened thus putting in danger their survival.

Following Bachelet's announcement, Environment Minister Marcelo Mena stated that 60 coastal localities accepted the proposal and in the coming months will implement a pilot program based on the bill, while it is approved by the national congress.

Chilean analysts still have doubts about the ins and outs of financing the project and the viability of the development, in general. On the other hand, non-coastal locations think that the law should be implemented throughout the country, since pollution is also a problem for the area of the mountain range.

Organizations struggling to work for the environment, such as Greenpeace, applauded the proposal. Matias Asun, executive director of the organization in Chile, argued that the use of the material is too common, "every citizen uses, on average, 200 plastic bags a year; we use 386 thousand bags per hour in the national territory ". For Asun, any proposal that protects the environment will have its detractors, but concludes that there is, finally, a will to protect the common environment, which benefits the entire population.

What is happening within the South American nation is not foreign to the reality of what is happening worldwide. The most recent case is that of Kenya, a country where the ban on plastic bags was implemented since August. Germany, although it hasn’t eliminated the use of said bags, encourages the use of cloth totes, just like Colombia is trying to do since earlier on this year.

Countries like Costa Rica are planning on banning the use of plastic by 2021. This isn’t limited to just bags, but also cutlery, plates, and cups. To contribute to the initiative, the use of biodegradable material has made its debut.

 

Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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