By Julie Etra
In the USA, where I am from, we are frequently asked: paper or plastic? And the groovy stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s only offer paper. Is paper any better? I suppose, since paper bags are biodegradable, but they still require a paper industry. That is a longer topic and conversation for another article.
As of January 2, 2020, single use plastic shopping bags were banned in Mexico City, implementing a law passed in May 2019. I have been told that this was done at the national level, but can only confirm that is has been implemented in Bahías de Huatulco, Querétaro, Tijuana, and the state of Veracruz. Plastic bags are still available for fresh food items such as produce, meat, and fish. Fines for non-compliance range from 2,245 pesos to 168,980 pesos (US $120 to $8,950), depending on the exchange rate, of course). Environment Secretary Marina Robles García is working with the plastic industry to encourage production of environmentally friendly alternatives. Other items facing a ban in Mexico City on January 1, 2021, and presumably elsewhere, include non-recyclable straws, plastic plates, cups, forks, spoons, and knives.
Not holding my breath for a nationwide ban in the USA. Currently the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii (de facto because all its counties do), Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont, as well as the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have banned single-use plastic bags. The Canadian government announced in June 2019 that it plans to ban harmful single-use plastics by 2021.