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AUG. 22, 2022

Did you know that each year food and delivery outlets generate single-use plastics equivalent to the weight of a 23-story building?

A more accessible complaint channel has been set up by the Environment Ministry and Oceana to report those who are not complying with the single-use plastics law and stop the environmental problems generated by this waste. 

Plastic waste has been a headache for the care of the environment for decades. Recent estimates indicate that every year 11 million tons of plastics reach the sea; if we do not take immediate action, that number will triple by 2040. 

Chile has taken important steps in this regard, and the single-use plastics law is one of them. The law establishes that, from February 13, 2022, a ban on food outlets providing the following plastic items for deliveries has been in effect: cutlery (forks, knives and spoons); stirrers; straws; toothpicks; and anything made of polystyrene. 

From the same date, the law also requires all of the country’s supermarkets to sell beverages in returnable bottles and to receive these bottles from customers. This reduces costs for customers, as they are cheaper and protect the environment. 

Although the new regulations have generally been well received by establishments, there are still those who are not complying with them. For this reason, Environment Minister Maisa Rojas and Oceana’s Legal Director Javiera Calisto have presented a new complaints channel so that people can easily report violations of the single-use plastics law. 

Minister Rojas pointed out that it is up to all premises to comply with the law, although she stressed that the public can also play an important role. In this sense, the law establishes that municipal authorities are responsible for oversight, but the public can also play their part by turning to local police courts. 

To make this task easier, Oceana has created a downloadable complaint form so that anyone can report a violation. The form will also be available on the Environment Ministry website. 

Figures 

It is very important that people comply with this law, as it will allow Chile to do something about the 23,000 tons of single-use plastics that are generated in the country each year. 

It is estimated that 75% of the waste found on Chile’s beaches is plastic, mostly small and single-use. Bottles, containers, polystyrene and straws are just some of the more common items found in beach clean-ups. Unfortunately, recycling, one of the most popular solutions to control the problem, is far from effective. 

Approximately one million tons of plastic is used in Chile each year, of which only 8.5% is recycled. And only 1.4% of this is household plastics. 

To highlight the scale of the problem, the amount of single-use plastic generated each year by food and delivery outlets is equivalent to the weight of a 23-story building, 116 blue whales, 2,324 garbage trucks or more than 51 million footballs. 

The study carried out by Oceana and Plastic Oceans also warns that the amount of this type of packaging produced has the same volume as five Olympic swimming pools. Its carbon footprint is equivalent to driving around the earth 5,300 times, or the same as traveling by car for 212 million kilometers. 

It should be noted that non-compliance with the single-use plastics law brings a fine of between 1 UTM and 5 UTM (Unidad Tributaria Mensual: an indicator whose value in pesos is defined by law and adjusted each month in accordance with the Consumer Price Index) ($58,000 and $293,000 Chilean pesos or US$65 and US$328), for each product used that does not comply with the regulations. 

Supermarkets that do not provide beverages in returnable bottles will be sanctioned with a municipal fine of between 1 UTM and 20 UTM ($58,000 and $1,175,000 Chilean pesos or US$65 and US$1316), for each day that the situation remains unresolved.