Mexican city bans plastic bags to fight waste

Global Business

Plastic waste is a growing challenge in Mexico, and it is taking a toll on its economy.

That’s why one city is now making cleaning up, a part of its strategy to attract international investors.

But not everyone is welcoming the changes. CGTN’ Alasdair Baverstock reports.

Two hours north of Mexico City, Queretaro City is one of Mexico’s industrial capitals.

Some $650 million has been invested in this region over the past two years, and in a bid to remain ahead of the curve, Queretaro will become the first municipality in the country to ban plastic bags. Queretaro’s Sustainable Development Secretary was instrumental in the legislative change.

“More than two million plastic bags are distributed in Queretaro daily. They are used for ten minutes to carry products home, and then thrown away. One hundred tons of plastic bags arrive at our city’s dump every day, and we can’t even recycle five percent of them, so everyone is applauding this step,” Daniel Rodriguez, Secretary for Sustainable Development said.

The ban takes effect in April, and local authorities hope it will go a long way toward clearing the streets – where so many bags end up today as litter.The plastic bag ban will crack down on any local merchants who continue to provide these disposable bags to their customers, with punishments varying from confiscation of the bags, to a refusal to renew business licenses. It’s a measure local merchants here in the municipal market say the city isn’t ready for. But despite the complaints, many shoppers in the market welcome the change.

Queretaro’s other forward-thinking environmental projects have included a campaign to plant over 25,000 trees, and the construction of 200-kilometre network of bicycle lanes to connect the city. Queretaro’s plastic bag ban comes nine years after a similar effort in Mexico City failed – in the face of manufacturers’ protest.