A year ago, Mexico passed a law to outlaw businesses from giving out plastic bags that are not biodegradable, but gave a period of twelve months for businesses to adapt. That ended last week, and now supermarkets and shops that give away free plastic bags could face fines from $4,500, all the way up to $90,500. But is that enough?According to EFE, the fines will be applied only after a report done by a consumer and a latter inspection to the venue, which doesn't sound like a very fast process. It's not surprise then that, as El Universal newspaper notes, major stores were giving away bags anyway on the first day of the rule entering force.
Some shop owners and employees argued that the measure wasn't properly communicated or explained, so they weren't even aware that it was being applied last week.
Reading some Mexican media these days, it seemed as if consumers were angry at the measure, which sounds weird considering it hopes to help the city reduce its trash (an issue most Mexicans living in the Federal District complain about). But locals in Washington DC also dreaded a tax on plastic bags a few months ago, which didn't prevent it from being a successful measure to cut waste.
Prohibiting or taxing plastic bags has not proven to be the solution everywhere: The Guardian noted last year that in Ireland it caused an increase on the purchase of garbage bags, which are thicker and harder to degrade; though in China it apparently saved 1.6 million tons of oil.
However, it's always useful to make people aware of the excess and encourage reusables. We'll have to see which way it goes in Mexico.
More on Plastic Bags Bans or Taxes:
How Many Cities Have a Ban on Plastic Bags?
China Launches Crackdown on Plastic Bags
Australia Moves Slowly Closer to Complete Plastic Bag Ban