Mexico City’s Plastic Bag Ban Now in Effect

Residents are resorting to old remedies like woven straw baskets to bring home groceries and goods.

January 03, 2020

MEXICO CITY—Mexico City’s new law banning the use of plastic bags went into effect January 1, and residents will likely return to the old ways of carting groceries and goods home from the store, the Associated Press reports. “We have a very rich history in ways to wrap things,” said Claudia Hernández, director of environmental awareness for the city. “We are finding that people are returning to baskets, to cucuruchos,” she said. A cucurucho is a roll of paper shaped into a cone to hold loose bulk items like seeds or chips.

Some residents have continued to lug woven straw baskets, ayate bags or tortilla towels to market, but many will likely find complying with the ban cumbersome. Grocery stores and other retailers will be fined for handing out single-use plastic bags, and many will sell reusable shopping bags for about 75 cents.

Mexico’s Plastic Industry Chamber has called the new regulation “cheap populism,” especially because the law didn’t outline the type of “compostable” bags allowed and has an exemption to use plastic “for reasons of hygiene,” such as for deli meats or cheeses. “This was a law that was copied and put together in a rush, without consulting people who really know about this issue,” said Aldimir Torres, who heads the chamber.

Next year, the law will expand to include giving out plastic straws, coffee capsules, spoons or other single-use plastic items. Meanwhile in the United States, New Jersey is considering a statewide ban on plastic bags.