A few weeks before legislation that would ban plastic bags from all commercial establishments is slated to take effect in Mexico City, plastics industry leaders are still waiting for concessions from local lawmakers.
Without modifications, the so-called Ley de Residuos SÃ³lidos (Solid Wastes Law) will slice as much as 30 percent off Mexico's 270 plastic bag companies' sales and put at least 13,000 full-time jobs in the sector at risk, according to national plastics industry association Anipac.
At a news conference this month, Eduardo Martínez Hernandez, Anipac's president, lamented that the three Legislative Assembly commissions responsible for proposing any changes to the law had postponed a meeting at which it was to be discussed because, according to Martínez, they considered the subject matter to be of little political relevance.
Asked July 14 whether the commissions had met subsequently, Martínez replied in the negative. The situation remains uncertain, he said.
The president and secretary of the environment and ecology protection commission, José Alberto Couttolenc Guemez and Juan Carlos Zarraga Sarmiento, respectively, have spent a great deal of time in talks with the industry, according to Martínez.
But it has been impossible to reach a consensus and time's running out, he added.
In February, industry leaders said they were optimistic that they could persuade legislators to amend the law, passed in March 2009 when the assembly introduced heavy fines and even prison sentences for shop keepers who give away plastic bags after Sept. 1, 2010.
Then-Anipac President Guillermo Salas said the city's environment minister, Martha Delgado, was sympathetic to Anipac's argument that it would be better for the government to introduce more stringent garbage separation and recycling measures than to ban plastic bags.
But the optimism has given way to pessimism. One of the industry's other worries is that, if the ban and accompanying penalties are adopted in Mexico City, states may follow suit.
The impact could be catastrophic for the industry, Martínez said.
He's of the opinion that ecologists have satanized plastic bags because they're a visible product. But in fact, he added, the bags represent only 1 percent of solid urban waste.
Anipac stands for Asociacón Nacional de Industrias del Plastico AC.
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