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Panama becomes first Central American nation to ban plastic bags

Christian Fernsby |
Panama on Saturday became the first Central American nation to ban single-use plastic bags to try to curb pollution on its beaches.

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The isthmus nation of roughly 4 million people joined more than 60 other countries that have totally or partially banned single-use plastic bags, or introduced taxes to dissuade their use, including Chile and Colombia in the region.

Supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers in Panama must stop using traditional polyethylene plastic bags immediately, while wholesale stores will have until 2020 to conform to the policy approved in 2018. Fines can be applied for non-compliance but there are exceptions for the use of plastic bags for sanitary reasons, such as with raw food.

On the streets of Panama City, signs with the phrase "less bags, more life" reminded passersby that the measure had gone into effect.


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