Mexico City goes back to the future with plastic bag ban

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on January 4, 2020 - Duration: 01:23s

Mexico City goes back to the future with plastic bag ban

Mexico City's new ban on plastic bags has inspired visions of a journey back in time even as local makers of the packaging worry they could become obsolete.

Jonah Green reports.

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Mexico City goes back to the future with plastic bag ban

Mexico City started off the new decade green -- with a ban on single use plastic bags.

The move comes amid worldwide efforts to protect the environment.

The official overseeing the ban says it was a necessary step for one of the world's largest cities.

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) TOP ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY OFFICIAL IN MEXICO CITY, ANDREE LILIAN GUIGUE, SAYING: "We have to remove plastic out of circulation because what's happening with plastic and other items that damage the environment is that they end up in the city's ravines, in the city's forests, in the city's public places.

And no one picks them up." For some, like Gabriel Sanchez who sells produce at a market - the switch is simply a return to the old days, when sellers would use paper bags, sacks and baskets.

But those in the plastic industry are worried the ban could hurt an industry already struggling.

Nationwide the industry generates about $30 billion a year, but it shrunk in 2019, partially due to other cities also banning plastic bags.

So now plastic producers are lobbying lawmakers to enact a federal law that would standardize rules and allow reusable, thicker bags.

But with the new rule now in effect others like Walmart's Mexico unit are complying by offering free, reusable bags this month and exploring more ways to reduce plastic packaging.

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