A plastic-free zone remains the goal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Turning Costa Rica into a one-use plastic free zone continues to be the ideal goal for several government ministries and non-government organizations.

This is expected to be incorporated as a part of the Estrategia Nacional, according to a recent statement by the Ministerio de Salud. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans, the health ministry said. The strategy seeks, through collective or voluntary action, that different sectors promote and require the replacement of single-use plastics.

“Solid waste is a threat to the development of societies,” Fernando Mora, the deputy minister of water and seas at the environmental ministry. “The lack of adequate disposal for them and their integral management have endangered our aquatic resources.”

The ministry said that single-use plastics represent an example that is used for a very small amount of time but last hundreds of years in degrading. The strategy attempts to promote the substitution of non-petroleum renewable materials and marine composites so that it can biodegrade in the oceans within six months.

“We have a responsibility to reduce the amount of waste we generate,” María Ester Anchía, deputy minister of Salud, said. “Four thousand tons of waste are made in the country with 11 percent being plastic. This is a figure we could reduce with this initiative of substitution.”

Non-government institutions are joining in on the strategy’s commitments. These include: the Cámara Nacional de Comerciantes Detallistas y Afines, the MarViva Foundation, varying chambers of retailers in some municipalities and Fundación CRUSA. Interested organizations or the general public can join the strategy and tell of their commitments by contacting the ministry.

Costa Rica announced it would join the “#cleanseas” effort by the United Nations Environment Programme back in February. The country has pledged to take steps to drastically reduce single-use plastic items through better waste management and education.

There have been efforts to ban single-use plastics since at least 1999 without legislative results.

The health and environmental ministries are trying to win the public as much as legislative cooperation in the endeavor. This latest move represents a continuation of that trend.

Lawmakers saw a bill that addressed the use of plastic in 1999, and a committee rejected the plan back in 2005. A new bill has been proposed since 2014 but it remains locked in the legislative assembly’s to-do list without much movement.

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