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Panama becomes first Central American nation to ban plastic bags

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Panama becomes first Central American nation to ban plastic bags

By Elida Moreno

 

2019-07-20T185532Z_2_LYNXNPEF6J0DY_RTROPTP_4_PANAMA-PLASTIC.JPG

Plastic waste pile and debris are seen up near the beach in Panama City, as Panama becomes the first country in Central America to ban all single-use plastic bags, in Panama July 19, 2019. REUTERS/ Erick Marciscano

 

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Panama on Saturday became the first Central American nation to ban single-use plastic bags to try to curb pollution on its beaches and help tackle what the United Nations has identified as one of the world's biggest environmental challenges.

 

The isthmus nation of roughly 4 million people joined more than 60 other countries that have totally or partially banned single-use plastic bags, or introduced taxes to dissuade their use, including Chile and Colombia in the region.

 

Supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers in Panama must stop using traditional polyethylene plastic bags immediately, while wholesale stores will have until 2020 to conform to the policy approved in 2018. Fines can be applied for non-compliance but there are exceptions for the use of plastic bags for sanitary reasons, such as with raw food.

 

On the streets of Panama City, signs with the phrase "less bags, more life" reminded passersby that the measure had gone into effect.

 

"This seems like a good measure because you avoid continuing to pollute the streets and the community," said Victoria Gomez, a 42-year-old secretary in downtown Panama City.

 

Birds, turtles, seals, whales and fish often become entangled or ingest the remnants of plastic bags in Latin America, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Along Panama's coast, it is common to see plastic waste littering beaches, especially near populated areas.

 

Given projected growth in consumption, without new anti-pollution policies oceans are expected by 2050 to contain more plastics than fish by weight, according to the New Plastics Economy report published by Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2016. The report also found that the entire plastics industry will consume 20% of total oil production by then.

 

(Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Will Dunham)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-07-21

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Well done to them for doing this. as long as it's enforced, of course.

I wonder when it might happen here - when the world runs out of oil to produce plastic perhaps?

 

 

Edited by bluesofa
misprit
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Kudos Panama! Let’s hope it spreads!

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This is a good step, and hopefully many other nations will follow. Makro and Home Pro now ask you to bring you own bags, and I hope more chains will follow suit, to rid Thailand of the plastic epidemic. There is alot we can do personally. A change in consciousness must start at the most basic level. Most Thais think plastic is the best thing ever invented, and the percentage of Thais that even consider the negative ramifications of plastic is incredibly small. This requires some education. I always do two things to avoid the consumption of plastic.

 

1. I bring re-usable bags with me every time I go shopping. I use the larger shopping bags I buy in the US, which are made of recycled materials. Most of the clerks have to be dealt with. Even when they see my bag, they still start putting the stuff in plastic. I always mai sai toom. No plastic! Then they start loading up my bag. Most look at me like I am from Mars. Do I care? Not one iota. About 1% thank me, and get it. Not many do. My Thai wife does not like bringing the bags to the store. I force her to. By now, she expects it, and sometimes even asks if I have any bags in the car, or on the motorbike. Same with the water bottles. It used to embarrass her. Now, it is second nature, as I have been doing this for so long, she expects it. So, if a Thai can be conditioned to follow these simple principals, then anyone can. 

 

2. I bring a bottle of water with me, every time I go to a restaurant. I refill my plastic and stainless steel bottles from the 20 liter bottles at home. It is easy. I never buy bottled water at a restaurant. This saves 300-600 bottles a year. I use a plastic bottle dozens of times. I never get any flack from the restaurants. Only once did someone say something to me. She said you cannot bring you own water. My response was if you serve the water in a glass bottle, and I do not have to consume a plastic bottle, I am happy to pay for that. She was lost. I told her rather sternly, to leave immediately, and get me my food. She went away. 

 

We simply cannot say we are concerned about the environment, and then do nothing about it. Action demonstrates commitment. Lack of action demonstrates nothing. Lastly, restaurants can demonstrate their commitment, by serving drinking water from the 20 liter bottles. It saves alot of plastic. They lose a small amount of revenue, by not selling thousands of bottles of water. But, their operation is still profitable, and they are making a real difference. There really is not need to be consuming water in plastic bottles. At least not often. There are alternatives. Millions of those damn bottles are a real culprit, when it comes to fouling the environment. What can we do, if we say we care?

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Kudos to Panama. 

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1 hour ago, spidermike007 said:

I use a plastic bottle dozens of times. I never get any flack from the restaurants. Only once did someone say something to me. She said you cannot bring you own water. My response was if you serve the water in a glass bottle, and I do not have to consume a plastic bottle, I am happy to pay for that. She was lost. I told her rather sternly, to leave immediately, and get me my food. She went away. 

"I told her rather sternly, to leave immediately, and get me my food. She went away". 

Many places would have, quite rightly, asked you to leave for your rudeness of taking your own water and your attitude to the staff!

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1 hour ago, Just Weird said:

"I told her rather sternly, to leave immediately, and get me my food. She went away". 

Many places would have, quite rightly, asked you to leave for your rudeness of taking your own water and your attitude to the staff!

Wow. You really missed the point. She was being rude to her customer. She was saying I could not bring my own water. I explained it was not about saving 10 or 20 baht. That it was about conservation. That I cared about her country, and did not want to foul it with another bottle of plastic. Did they offer either complimentary filtered water, or water in glass bottles? She said no. I told her to go away. If they wanted to kick me out, I would not have had any problem with that. No big deal. Anytime someone wants to lose a customer over 10 baht, that is not my issue. It is their issue and their own stunning lack of vision. 

 

There is nothing rude about taking your own bottle into a restaurant, and bringing your own water. Water is something that that we should not be charged for anyway. If you, or they do not get that, or my effort to avoid consuming plastic, there is no point in breaking it down any further. I have been doing this for ten years now. One restaurant in all that time has said I cannot. One. In ten years. I think many get it. Especially if they ask, and I tell them I do not like to use plastic. 

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Post removed.   Please return to the topic.  

 

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I am sure glad I dont live in Panama.....I like plastic bags....

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Posted (edited)

Maybe Panama will become the first expat retirement destination to have beaches free of plastic. For me, pollution is at the forefront when deciding where to retire. I've pondered many times about my decision to retire in Thailand; I've grown tired of seeing the trash strewn countryside while riding my bike and having those ubiquitous Isuzu pickups spewing carcinogenic clouds of black PM2.5 in my face. I may switch to Costa Rica. I visited 10 years ago. The roads are better, safer and so clean. The rivers are pristine. You can even drink water straight from the tap. 1/3 of the country is protected National Parkland. They are proud environmentalists. Nobody litters. They value nature.

Edited by Uptooyoo

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