Panama’s Consumer Protection Authority (Acodeco) fined 32 businesses for flouting rules governing the use of plastic bags in the first three months of the program which prohibits the use of bags polyethylene plastics for the transport of merchandise in pharmacies, department stores, supermarkets, and mini-supermarkets. The measure excludes restaurants and laundries.
The fines imposed on businesses amount to $8,200, and the main causes are related to the breach of the certificate of conformity and non-declaration of reusable bag costs.
In order to use a plastic bag, businesses must have a certification that guarantees that the material they are offering to the consumer does not contain polyethylene, and the cost of reusable bags must be clearly displayed to the public.
The main offending businesses are department stores, pharmacies and clothing, and footwear stores, says Acodeco.
With the measure that promotes the use of reusable materials, the presence of plastic bags on the Panamanian coasts decreased, according to Mirei Endara, former environment minister and current director of Panama Green Tide.
On September 28, after a solid waste collection process through the floating barrier installed in the Matías Hernández River, which prevents waste from reaching the sea, no plastic bags appeared. "In three months we have seen a big difference," said Endara.
It is estimated that 102,299 tons of waste ends up in Panama’s rivers and seas annually.
Currently, the main polluting materials are plastic bottles and foam. Some 30,00 tons of plastic bottles reach the Panamanian coast every year.
A bill to enable the use of recycled plastic in the construction rehabilitation and improvements of secondary streets in Panama is hung up in administrative limbo.
The project was discussed and approved in the third debate, but not sanctioned in the last legislative period of the past Government.