Panama says “adios” to plastic bags

Panama is the first country in Central America to ban the use of plastic bags in stores.

On June 20th, Panama joined the list of countries that are banning the use of plastic bags. The objective of the ban is to avoid polluting the environment, especially the oceans. A report by specialists from the European Commission concluded that 80% of garbage in the world’s oceans is plastic, due to its slow decomposition of polyethylene.

Plastic trash is found in the guts of more than 90% of the world’s sea birds (ref), in the stomachs of more than half of the world’s sea turtles (ref), and it’s even choking the life out of whales (ref). At the rate at which plastic is accumulating in the oceans of the planet, it’s predicted that, by 2050, the mass of plastic in the world’s oceans will exceed the mass of all the fish that live there (ref).


Panama bans the use of plastic bags in stores

Sea turtle with a half-eaten plastic bag in its mouth. (Credit: Yamamoto Biology / Creative Commons.)


Ban on Plastic Bags in Panama

The Law No. 1 of 2018 went into effect on Saturday, July 20th and applies to supermarkets, mini supermarkets, grocery stores and retail stores. This regulation will be extended to department stores and wholesalers in January 2020.

Panama is the first country in Central America to ban plastic bags. Environmental groups said they will present more bills to protect the environment. For example, Canada will soon ban the use of plastic cutlery and stirring sticks.

Officials  from Panama’s Authority of Consumer Protection and Competition Defense (ACODECO) have been and will continue to be available to educate consumers and merchants on the use of reusable bags. On Saturday, June 20th, ACODECO officials visited a total of 2,153 stores across Panama.