Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beans for Bags in Rio!

Subtitle: Rio De Janiero Takes a Strong Stance Against Plastic Bags!

Great ideas from Brazil - a beans & rice CRV for plastic bags, read on:

From our Rio-via-San-Francisco Surfrider RAP rep, Melissa Legget:

Bags, Now Only of Reusable Material


The government bill mandating that plastic bags distributed by stores be substituted for reusable bags was approved on June 24, 2009 by the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro (Alerj). The bill, proposed in 2007, took almost two years to be voted on because of pressure by various economic groups. Finally, the bill has finally been signed by Governor Sergio Cabral, making the legislation into law.

In those two years, sixteen parliamentary amendments were incorporated into the original government bill. An original amendment stated that stores continuing to use plastic bags would have to buy back each bag for R$.03 (US$.015) or give a kilo of rice or beans for every 50 bags returned to the store, even if that particular store did not distribute the particular bags in the first place. In the latest version of the law, stores are no longer required to buy back bags but will have to give at least a R$.03 discount for every 5 items to clients who choose to use their own bags. In the final text, the food exchange program was maintained.

Stores will also have to put up signs informing customers that plastic material takes more than one hundred years to decompose. Fines for not complying with the new law could reach more than R$10,000 (US$5,000). Large companies will have one year and small companies will have three years to implement the new legislation. The president of Alerj, Jorge Picciani (PMDB), affirmed that he will meet with business entities and write a new bill incorporating proposed alterations to the bill approved yesterday.

The bill was proposed in 2007 by the then State Secretary of the Environment, Carlos Minc, today Brazil's Minister of the Environment. The government's justification for the bill is that plastic bags cause grave problems for the environment, principally to streams and rivers, where the accumulation of this material provokes floods in regions close to rivers. Pressure by commercial entities and the plastic industry delayed the voting process.