A few weeks before legislation is slated to take effect that would ban plastic bags from all commercial establishments in Mexico City, plastics industry leaders appear to have wrung a major concession from local politicians.
Mexico City's mayor is likely to veto the introduction of penalties for bag use, even if the city's Legislative Assembly sanctions them, the president of Mexico's national plastics industry association, Eduardo Martínez Hernandez, said July 15.
And if there are no penalties, the law doesn't exist, Martínez said in an interview.
The penalties, including prison sentences and heavy fines, are due to be implemented Aug. 18 .
Martínez said a date for the city's Legislative Assembly to discuss the law, passed in March 2009, has been set for this month. What we have heard is that, even if there are no amendments, [Mexico City Mayor] Marcelo Ebrard will veto the penalties.
Asked whether he was sure that Ebrard would take such action, Martínez replied: We are not 100 percent sure, but that's what we've been told.
Martínez said that, despite opposition to plastic bags within the city government and Assembly, we have made so much noise in favor of the bags that I think we'll get some satisfactory results.
If the so-called Ley de Residuos SÃ³lidos (Solid Wastes Law) were enacted in its entirety, including the penalties, it would slice as much as 30 percent off the sales of Mexico's 270 plastic bag companies and put at least 13,000 full-time jobs in the sector at risk, according to the association that Martínez presides over, Anipac, which stands for Asociacón Nacional de Industrias del Plastico AC.
José Cueto of Carredana de Empaques SA de CV (Cadesa), one of Mexico's leading manufacturers of high density polyethylene bags for self-service stores, said even if the law were to proceed as planned, the capital's government doesn't have sufficient inspectors to enforce it.
It's also very probable, he added, that someone will apply for and be granted the right to appeal the law via an amparo lawsuit, which would render the law toothless.
A writ of amparo, used predominately in Spanish-speaking countries, is an instrument designed to guarantee protection of an individual's constitutional rights.