New law prohibits free plastic bags in Mexico City

18 August 2010 21:51  [Source: ICIS news]

MEXICO CITY (ICIS)--Mexico City's tough plastic-bag law went into effect on Wednesday, prohibiting businesses from giving away the bags for free.

To comply with the new law, companies will most likely start charging customers a fee of Mexican peso (Ps) 1 (8 cents) for each bag.

Those that violate the law could serve 36 hours in jail and pay a penalty of Ps57,000-1.49m ($4,500-118,000, €3,510-92,000).

“Tomorrow, the act of giving someone a plastic bag at no charge becomes a crime,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of Mexico's National Plastics Industry Association (Anipac) during a conference on Tuesday.

Martinez had made a last-minute call to the mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard, urging him to veto the law.

Shoppers in Mexico City receive about 32m free bags each day.

Domestic plastic bag production stood at 466,000 tonnes in 2009, translating to approximately 68bn bags.

Sales - mostly wholesale - were expected to reach Ps12bn this year before the law took effect.

If a few other states adopt laws similar to Mexico City's, then plastic bag production could fall by 30%, costing $285m in lost sales, according to Anipac.

If the entire nation adopts the law, production could fall by 50%, costing the industry $470m in lost sales, Anipac said.

The industry made last-minute appeals for the city council to call an emergency session about the new law. However, council members were on vacation, and the body will not re-adjourn until mid September.

Without intervention by the Mexico City mayor, it was unlikely that any changes to the law will come about earlier than mid-September, when the council reconvenes.

($1 = Ps12.60)
($1 = €0.78)

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By: James Young
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