Plastic bags will be banned in the municipality of Querétaro beginning April 1 next year, making it the first municipality in Mexico to implement the measure.
The prohibition is part of a wider environmental protection law that was approved unanimously at a council meeting Wednesday and will prevent businesses from providing disposable plastic bags to customers.
“. . . Protecting the environment is a fundamental principle to build a more sustainable city with a better quality of life,” Querétaro Mayor Marcos Aguilar Vega said in a press release.
Aguilar Vega also announced that due to the high cost involved, biodegradable shopping bags would not be distributed to residents as had been previously announced.
Instead, he called on residents to cooperate with the ruling by buying one of three alternative bags, adding that they would be available at a cost accessible to all.
“Being the first municipality in Mexico to take this step, I want to ask all of you to feel proud and to contribute so that this mission can be an example that is repeated in the rest of the republic,” Aguilar said.
Approval of the law “places our municipality as a national leader in environmental matters,” he added.
Sanctions for businesses that don’t comply with the new ordinance will include confiscation of the outlawed bags, fines ranging in value according to the size of the offending establishment or even revoking their operational licenses, the mayor explained.
However, he stressed that the decision to implement the law is based on evidence that the bags are extremely harmful to the environment and its aim is to stop that damage and raise awareness about the issue rather than impose punishment.
Two million disposable plastic bags are currently used in the municipality daily, with each one taking between 100 and 500 years to break down completely.
Other environmentally-friendly projects that the government has undertaken include a massive tree-planting spree and the replacement of 60,000 street lights that helped to significantly lower the city’s carbon footprint.
Next on the agenda is the construction of a 200-kilometer bicycle path network aimed at encouraging people to leave their cars at home.
“The government under my charge has driven the greatest environmental policy in the history of our municipality,” the mayor asserted.
Source: Diario de Querétaro (sp)