Ticking down to July 20
The countdown clock in Parque Urracá originally installed to mark off the days leading to World Youth Day, and re-activated for the weeks to the May 5 election, is back in action to mark the regressive count towards July 20, when in Panama it will no longer be possible to use plastic bags in stores.
The latest countdown is an initiative of the National Association for the Conservation of Nature (Ancon), which has stressed the importance of eliminating the use of plastic products.
Retail stores have until July 19 to provide paper or reusable bags. In addition, the customer can bring shopping bags from home.
Officials of the Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition Authority will make operatives to ensure that the reusable bags are sold at cost to consumers.
Rita Spadafora, executive director of Ancon, said it is the first initiative in the region to combat an element as polluting as plastic bags. She said that the elimination of plastic bags is the first step and in the National Assembly there is also another draft bill to eliminate the use of foam for food packaging.
I have been told that Panama has no real process for recycling. Some of us take re-cycling seriously and recycle everything we can. Then it ends us in a land fill that pollutes the country as there is no system for processing it. China will no longer buy it, so it just gets dumped in a landfill. We are running out of space.
Plastics are not the problem. The improper disposal of the plastic products are the problem. Plastics and most other trash can be processed without emissions and convert the energy in the trash to electricity or liquid fuel like low sulphur diesel. Plastic is not the problem, people not disposing properly and governments not providing with dependable collection of the trash.
Grocery bags are one thing; always bring my own. But for general stores, can be problematic as one might forego impulse items because they haven’t brought a bag big enough. So customers will start thinking of what to buy that will fit into their containers and merchants will take notice. Unintended consequence: “Oh! I can’t pop into that store—I didn’t bring enough bags”. Bringing “green” bags is a good environmental idea which may die in short order when merchants complain.