Chile Bans Plastic Bags for Businesses

August 6, 2018 Updated: August 6, 2018

Chile is the first South American country to ban plastic bags.

Large businesses will have six months to abide by the ban, while small businesses will have two years.

Any plastic that is used to maintain the hygiene of a product or prevent food wastage is exempt from this ban. Any person caught using plastic bags for any other reason will be fined $370. The fine is almost equivalent to the country’s high of a $426 monthly minimum wage.

The Association of Plastic Manufacturers reported that it takes one minute to produce a plastic bag with that is used for 15 to 30 minutes, while it takes 400 years for each bag to degrade. 3.4 billion plastic bags are used in Chile every year, with a population of 18 million, each Chilean would use 189 bags per year, The Santiago Times reported.

“A plastic bag takes seconds to make, is used for less than half an hour between the supermarket and the home, and then takes 400 years to biodegrade,” tweeted President Sebastian Piñera.

Washington, D.C. reduced plastic pollution with a tax on plastic bags in 2009, before the policy, 22.5 million plastic bags were being used per month. After the policy, it’s 3.3 million bags per month.

Since 2012, all retail stores in San Francisco have been banned from using single-use plastic bags. For food establishments, the ban began in 2013. Only compostable, reusable or recycled bags were allowed to be sold. All the bags listed above have a mandatory 10 cent charge, this charge reduced disposable bags by 70 to 90 percent.

China banned the distribution of plastic bags that are less than 0.025 millimeters thick in 2008, any store that is caught distributing these bags will face a fine of $1,465. Since then, plastic bag usage has reduced by 66 percent.