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Will LA's bag ban affect Mexico?

By: Stephen Downer

January 10, 2014

MEXICO CITY – The retail plastic bag ban which took effect in Los Angeles Jan. 1 could end up with Chinese polyethylene bags swamping the Mexican market, according to an industry consultant in Mexico.

"It might lead to a change in the final destination of the Chinese bags that are used on the West Coast of the United States, principally in California, with markets being sought in Mexico," Eduardo de la Tijera Coeto wrote in an emailed newsletter January 8.

De la Tijera, CEO of Grupo Texne, of Mexico City, is a former president of national plastics industry association Anipac (Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico AC) and has been at the forefront of efforts to resist plastic bag bans across Mexico.

The national plastics industry has faced 50 attempts to ban PE shopping bags and expanded polystyrene cups in the past five years and emerged victorious every time, he wrote in his regular Carta al Industrial newsletter.

"Although some attempts to ban plastic bags and cups prospered at first, at the end of the day we were able to stop or neutralize them,"

However, De la Tijera warned that fresh anti-bag and polystyrene sentiment is brewing in the cities of Mexicali and the Mexican capital, among others.

"If you think we're out of the woods because there's no legislation anywhere in Mexico that prohibits plastic bags or insists that they be biodegradable then you're naïve," he wrote. "And if you believe that only plastic bags are under threat, you're even more gullible."

He urged Anipac's members to get behind the association and "take concrete action that demonstrates the commitment that we've always had with our industry and our environment."

De la Tijera believes the impact of the ban in Los Angeles will be offset by an increase in the purchase of black and grey garbage bags and rolls of small bags used by pet owners to clean up after their animals.

"I very much doubt that the beaches will be cleaner or that dolphins, turtles and whales will enjoy a life free of marine garbage. The biggest polluter of the seas is tobacco-related waste, cigarette butts, packs and the rest, not bags."