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Chilean plastic industry fights plastic bag ban

Staff Writer |
The Association of Plastic Industries in Chile filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court seeking to repeal a law prohibiting the use of plastic bags in the country.

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"It will be possible to argue against the harmful effects of plastic bags, that is, the process of degradation, not the production. From this point of view, the measure (the absolute prohibition without distinction) is irrational and arbitrary," said the association.

According to the association, "the ban on bags will have a serious economic impact. Our estimates suggest that more than 2,500 families would be affected by the loss of jobs offered by the industry."

The Chilean parliament passed a law last month that bans the commercial use of plastic bags. The vote held regarding the law change, which was based on environmental protection concerns, passed with almost unanimous support by all lawmakers.

The law is stipulated to come into force within one year of its enactment, though micro, small and medium-sized businesses have up to two years to stop plastic bag distribution.

In the meantime, businesses are permitted to offer a maximum of two plastic bags to each customer for each purchase they make.

According to official studies, the country produces 3.4 billion plastic bags a year. Each bag is used for an average of 30 minutes, yet takes approximately 400 years to degrade.

Authorities argue that each year 8 million tons of plastic reaches the sea and around 30 percent of plastic packages are not re-used or recycled. This creates a negative impact on coastal areas and harms animals and sea life.

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