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Guatemala Prohibits Single-Use Plastics to Stop Pollution

Law Establishes 2-Year Term so that Plastics Will Be Replaced by Other Materials

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Guatemala announced on Friday, September 20th, 2019, the ban on single-use plastics and expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) items, a measure that will take effect in 2 years to curb contamination by the waste of these materials.

The decision of the Guatemalan government, published last Friday in the “Diario de Centro América”, requires that single-use plastic bags, straws, plates, glasses, mixers or stirrers, and food containers be prohibited. The ban also includes products made from expanded polystyrene, a material known as “duraport”, used to pack food and other goods.

Styrofoam containers as plastic waste

The agreement sets a term of 2 years from the publication for those who use plastic to replace it with other items and supplies made with reusable material. Materials and supplies for medical or therapeutic purposes are excluded from this prohibition.

The Environment Minister, Alfonso Alonzo, told reporters that the measure aims to eliminate all kinds of products that are used in a short time but that take thousands of years to disappear. “The marine fauna has been contaminated tremendously in rivers and lakes, proof of this is the Motagua River, which is completely contaminated. We are promoting alternative technologies, compostable and bags of various uses”, the minister added.

The regulation gives a deadline for the industry to have time to make “the changes the world is asking for. It is a global issue”, pointed out the government’s representative. “Today we see that supermarkets no longer give a single-use bag. Most restaurants no longer give straw and it is an issue that society was asking for”, he said.

To date, about 10 out of the 340 Guatemalan municipalities had already adopted the ban on single-use plastics.

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