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Proposed tax on plastic bags is Ecuador’s first step to reduce plastic waste

Ecuador may soon take the first step to reduce the use of plastics. The proposed law of economic reform, currently being debated in the National Assembly, would tax single-use plastic bags 10 cents each. In its first phase, the tax would apply to bags used in larger retail stores and not to small businesses.

Volunteers collect plastic waste on a beach in Guayas Province.

“The world is literally drowning in plastic and this is our effort to install controls and reduce its usage,” says Environmental Minister Raúl Ledesma. “The problem is especially severe in the Galapagos and on the mainland coast and we want to reduce the amount of plastic products that enter the ecosystem. A recent United Nations study predicts that at the current rate of consumption, there will be more tons of plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050. To date, 24 countries have banned plastic bags.”

Ledesma cited recent clean-up projects in the Galapalgos Islands and Guayas Province where tons of plastic were removed from beaches and offshore waters.

In 2018, Ecuador and seven other Latin American countries committed to begin a phase-out of many plastic products within 10 years.

Ledesma said the proposed tax was designed to have minimum impact on Ecuador’s poor, many of whom depend on plastic bags in the purchase and sale of produce. “Over time, we will develop alternatives but one of our objectives is to minimize the impact of the new tax on the poor segment of the population.”

Marisol Andrade, Ecuador’s SRI director, says the new tax will raise $22 million in 2020, much of it earmarked for clean-up projects.

14 thoughts on “Proposed tax on plastic bags is Ecuador’s first step to reduce plastic waste

  1. They love their plastic here… Not just bags everything could be plastic and they would be so happy. I get ugly faces when I say I don’t want a plastic bag I’ll just carry it.

    1. I usually get a smile and a nod of understanding when I tell a vendor that I don’t need the plastic. This is one area where environmentally aware gringos could lead the way. If one just has to use plastic, the next best thing is to recycle. There are plastic recycle bins in front of just about every TIA store.

  2. Plastic bags serve two purposes – they are re-used once you get home. I wish SuperMaxi would not waste so much – they could fill the bag to twice the capacity and they could refrain from double-bagging as much as they do.

    Oh, really, plastic bags are so dangerous to the environment? This could be a psy-op — to make us all conscious that mankind is destroying the environment. How do you save the eco-system? Get rid of people. Agenda 2030. Or am I reading into it?

    1. you forget that only rich people using plastic is a problem, poor people using plastic, no problem.

  3. To bad this doesn’t work. People pay for the larger and thicker plastic bags but most of them end up in the landfills anyway. The only way to get people to bring their own reusable bags is to not offer plastic bags at all.

    You have to change people’s habits. This selling bags is a bad idea. It doesn’t solve the problem.

    By the way, it is either Chile or Argentina that no longer offer plastic bags. I had to go out into the trash container and find an old cardboard box to put my groceries in. The next time I went shopping, I brought my own bags.

    Charging for paper bags would be the smart option.

  4. In the US the cashiers always asked us upon bagging groceries, “Paper or plastic?” Of course no plastic at all is ideal, but I do not see even that choice here though I looked carefully. What will the plastic be replaced with? I do not consume anything from the ocean..

  5. “much of it is earmarked for cleanup projects” How much is “much”? Why not all?

  6. Anyone know if laws similar to this one have any actual significant effect on our environment?
    If an action taken has a proven effect I am for it, who wants to needlessly ruin the environment?
    However, sometimes I think these laws are passed just so it can be said that they did something. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    1. I worked at a large train station in Canada. There was many sets (3 categories) of re-cycling bins throughout the building. At the end of the day they placed all of the contents of the bins in the same dumpster. It was all show — all propaganda.

  7. It’s a step in the right direction. It won’t completely stop the use of plastic. We put our meat in plastic and then reuse the bag for garbage takeout. Ten cents has more value here in Ecuador than in other parts of the world, so it will catch the attention of most plastic bag users. It shouldn’t be about collecting money for cleanup projects. It’s about changing behavior.

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