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#LlevaTuBolsa (Bring Your Bag): Supermarkets and retail outlets will stop distributing plastic bags on February 3

Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags when they visit retail outlets. Small and medium enterprises have until 2020 to move away from distributing plastic bags.

The law ending the distribution of plastic bags in stores nationwide was published in the Official Gazette on August 3, 2018. The initiative provided for a six-month adjustment period for stores such as supermarkets and retail outlets, which ends on Sunday, February 3. After that date, such stores will be prohibited from distributing plastic bags to clients.

The law states that small and medium enterprises will have until August 3, 2020 to comply.

These measures make Chile the first country in Latin America to prohibit the distribution of plastic bags nationwide as a way of raising awareness of the harm that they cause to the environment.

What does this law men in practical terms?

The law means that plastic bags for carrying merchandise can no longer be distributed for free or sold in stores.

What fines will be issued?

Stores that fail to follow the law can be fined five Monthly Tax Units, which is a little over $240,000 pesos. The funds will benefit the municipality and the fine will be issued by the local police court.

How does this affect primary containers (such as those used for bread, fish, legumes, cold cuts, fruits and vegetables, and other products)?

Primary packaging and products that are packaged in their place of manufacture are excluded from this prohibition.

How will we handle household waste?

The law seeks to regulate the indiscriminate and unchecked use of plastic bags in shopping outlets but not the prohibition of their sale. The “t-shirt” style bag that is commonly used in shops is not designed to be used for waste because it fails to properly contain liquids and breaks easily.

Trash bags are made to store trash and ensure that it is correctly handled until it reaches its final destination. These are recommended, as is the practice of separating plastic bottles (PET), glass containers, Tetra pak cartons, paper and cardboard for recycling. This simple action considerably decreases the amount of waste.

 

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