Discussion on the use of plastic bags

Argentina’s National Congress is evaluating a project to eliminate plastic bags that is considering its implementation 4 years after the law was approved, so if it is debated this year, it would take effect in 2013.

The project is similar to a law that will apply to supermarkets, convenience stores, warehouses and businesses in the province of Buenos Aires from October, which means they will not be able to deliver plastic bags to their customers. This law foresees the inclusion of other retail activities from 2010.

Other provinces that already regulate the use of plastic bags are Mendoza and Chubut. The municipalities of Santa Cruz and El Bolsón were added to them. For its part, San Luis recently sent legislation to the provincial legislature to end the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags.

For its part, the supermarket chain Cencosud joined the proposal to reduce the use of plastic bags through awareness campaigns and making cloth bags available to customers at low prices.

The effectiveness of replacing non-biodegradable plastic bags with more environmentally friendly ones is being debated. “Biodegradable plastic breaks down only under composting conditions (moisture, aeration, microorganisms). It is useless to use biodegradable materials if, after collection, the waste is disposed of in landfills,” said Plastivida Argentina, an institution that deals with plastic and environmental research, when asked by Clarín newspaper.

Greenpeace indicates that these types of regulations are partial solutions to the problem of litter that “requires comprehensive management”.

Data from a study by the British consulting firm Boustead Consulting
Compared to paper, plastic bags use 17 times less fresh water in their production and release half as many greenhouse gases. As for biodegradable bags, those currently in use release 4.5 times less of this type of gas.

Non-biodegradable bags also use 36% less fossil fuel than paper bags and 64% less than biodegradable bags.

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