Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The other side of plastics bans: tens of thousands of lost jobs

The plastics industry is panicking because of the growing trend for legislation banning single-use plastics, which it says will have unintended consequences for the economy, including the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and lost potential for recycling.

At least 16 states have passed laws limiting or banning single-use plastics, including Mexico City, which will phase out single-use plastic bags by 2020, and other single-use plastics, including cutlery and plates, by 2021.

In an interview with the newspaper Milenio, José Anguiano, president of the Plastic Bag Industry Association (Inboplast), said a ban on plastic bags isn’t a good solution because it will discourage recycling and affect tens of thousands of people who work in the industry.

“With these legal changes, plastic residues that are recycled by companies associated with Inboplast could end up in garbage dumps, in fields, or in the sea, because the law doesn’t promote recycling,” he said. “The bags that are being banned by the law are made with material from other origins.”

According to data from the national statistics institute, the plastic ban could negatively impact more than 20,000 people who collect recyclables in Mexico City, and prevent the recycling of more than 267,000 tonnes of plastic a year, equivalent to filling the city’s Estadio Azteca 200 times.

The industry is already starting to feel the effect of the legislation. According to the National Association of the Plastic Industry (Anipac), which represents 250 plastic companies, the sector is projected to shrink 4.5% this year after many years with an average 4% growth rate.

“We’re in shock,” Anipac president Aldimir Torres Arenas told the magazine Expansión. “The market is starting to contract because some companies are operating at 30% of their capacity, with a direct impact on 300,000 jobs, which are at risk.”

According to Anipac, single-use products account for 47% of the plastic industry in Mexico, which is worth US $30 billion and directly employees 260,000 people.

But many of the 4,100 companies that make up the Mexican plastic industry are already adapting in preparation for the future.

“The businesses have started using more recycled plastics in their containers,” Christiane Molina, professor of business at the Monterrey Technological Institute, told Expansión. “They’re even making bottles with 25% or up to 100% recycled materials . . . It’s a gradual process, and some business are foreseeing more investment and results by 2025.”

Source: Milenio (sp), Expansión (sp)

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