A ban on plastic bags went into effect in Querétaro yesterday as part of a wider environmental protection law that was approved by council last December.
The prohibition prevents businesses from providing disposable plastic bags to customers, with penalties for non-compliance including the confiscation of the outlawed bags, fines ranging in value according to the size of the offending establishment and even the revocation of business licenses in cases of repeated defiance of the law.
“. . . Protecting the environment is a fundamental principle to build a more sustainable city with a better quality of life,” Querétaro Mayor Marcos Aguilar said in a press release when the law was first announced.
He said the decision to implement the law is based on evidence that the bags are harmful to the environment.
The ordinance was originally slated to take effect on April 1 but its introduction was pushed back four months because it clashed with the campaign period for this year’s elections.
Shoppers in Querétaro were using two million disposable plastic bags every day before the ban took effect, meaning that the introduction of the law could prove challenging.
Gerardo de la Garza, president of the Querétaro branch of the National Chamber of Commerce (Canaco), said that an information campaign run in conjunction with the local government will continue to inform residents and business owners about the change but he stressed that businesses are ready to comply with the new law.
However, not everyone is happy about the ban.
Martha Patricia Vargas Salgado, director of ecology for the municipal government, said that three injunctions against the law have already been filed and that more will likely follow now that the ban is in effect.
But she stressed that it is “a very well-made law” and said the municipality won the first legal battle it has faced over the ban. Vargas also said that “there is a lot of support from citizens.”
She explained that municipal authorities would largely rely on reports from the public about businesses that are not complying with the law rather than carrying out wholesale inspections.
Shoppers will be able to file reports on the local government’s website, through its social media accounts and via telephone.
Querétaro became the first municipality to pass a law banning single-use plastic bags late last year but since then lawmakers in Veracruz’s state Congress and municipal politicians in Ensenada, Baja California, have passed similar measures.
Source: El Financiero (sp)