From the remote Galpagos Islands to the humid depths of the Amazon, governments are cutting back on plastic, citizens are cleaning up the beaches, and innovators are looking for alternative products as part of a regional-wide movement to reverse the trend in plastic pollution.
Awareness of the need for action is growing in a region particularly vulnerable to marine litter and other environmental threats caused by climate change, such as increasingly powerful storms. In 2020, 3.7 million tons of plastic pollution entered the ocean from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean Region (LAC).
Currently, 27 of the 33 countries in the LAC region have passed national or local laws to reduce, ban or eliminate single-use plastics. Yet much more needs to be done. Plastics account for about 10-12 percent of municipal solid waste and waste recycling and recovery rates they are typically less than 10 per cent in the countries of the regions.
So what are the countries in the region doing to tackle plastic pollution?
Antigua and Barbuda
In 2016 Antigua and Barbuda it became the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to ban plastic bags.
In 2019 Argentina passed a resolution that established national guidelines to address the problem of plastics and its impact on water bodies and the environment with a life cycle approach covering aspects of production, use , waste management and pollution reduction. A law was passed in 2020 banning the manufacture, import and marketing of cosmetic and personal care products that contain intentionally added plastic microbeads for exfoliation, including lotions, makeup products, toothpaste, nail polish and soap, among other products.
Belizerenowned for having the second largest barrier reef in the world, it pledged to ban single-use plastic items, such as cutlery, bags and straws, as well as Styrofoam by April 2019. The ban was eventually introduced in March 2022, although questions stay beyond its execution.
Brazil has had a national plan to combat litter at sea since 2019, which however has not yet been implemented. Two waste-related decrees were published earlier this year, one re-establishing a Waste Collectors Support Program and another reorganizing the system of reverse logistics and recycling credits. While Brazil does not yet have a nationwide ban, some key governments, such as the state of Rio de Janeiro and the city of São Paulo, are taking action and have adopted local bans on bags, straws and other single-use plastics. products. The city of São Paulo is also a signatory to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.
The country was the first in South America to ban the use of plastic bags in 2018. The single-use plastic law went into effect in 2021, regulating the use of single-use plastics in food establishments, which are prohibited from handing out straws , stirrers or wands.
The National Plan for the Sustainable Management of Single-Use Plastics aims to ensure that 100% of single-use plastics placed on the market are reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2030. In 2022, the country passed a bill to ban 14 types of plastics , including plastic bags, straws and fruit and vegetable packaging.
Costa Rica introduced its National Marine Litter Plan 2021-2030 in 2021, which aims to reduce land-based waste streams reaching the sea, including plastics, in partnership with organizations and communities.
Ecuadoris turning the Galpagos Islands into a plastic-free archipelago and in 2018 phased out plastic bags, straws, polyethylene take-out containers and bottles.
The country uses bio-fences made from reclaimed plastic debris to collect plastic waste from rivers, enabling communities to collect and recycle it. The fences extend across the river and prevent plastic pollution from flowing into the sea. Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Panama have also introduced biofences.
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