Mexico City — Bans on single-use plastics are spreading in North America — including Mexico — and the issue was in the spotlight at the Plastimagen Light trade show.
Tony Radoszewski, president and CEO of the Washington-based Plastics Industry Association, launched a stinging attack on "absurd plastics bans" in North America March 23 and urged the industry to work harder to protect jobs and the general public.
Campaigns branding plastics as toxic, "as is happening in Canada," and state- and federal-level bans in the United States had intensified since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Radoszewski said.
"As a result, we have to work harder to protect our employees, members and the general public from these absurd plastics bans." It was absolutely necessary, he added, to promote the responsible use of plastics, including recycled materials.
A guest speaker at the Plastimagen Light virtual trade show and conference coordinated by event specialist Tarsus Group in the Mexican capital, Radoszewski said the United States, Canada and Mexico between them account for one of the world's "most powerful plastics trading blocs."
The three countries, whose governments modified the North American Free Trade Agreement, known today as USMCA, or T-MEC in Mexico, two years ago, employed highly skilled workers and served dynamic markets.
The result, he added, was "a great continental bloc that generates millions of jobs and economic growth."
During online meetings at Plastimagen Light, an unspecified number of Mexican plastics industrialists "denounced" bans on plastic bags and one-use plastic items imposed over the past two years, Tarsus said in a news release.
They also reaffirmed their support for the so-called National Agreement for the New Plastics Economy, signed by Mexican legislators, industrialists, retail and civic groups in December 2019, Tarsus said.
The agreement's targets include collecting and recycling, or making compostable, up to 80 percent of all PET and 45 percent of all packaging plastics produced in the country by 2030.
Anipac, Mexico's national plastics industry association, has said the deal "puts Mexico at the vanguard" of plastics recycling on the American continent and has described the objectives as being "similar to those aspired to by the European Union."
According to Susana Hernández, Anipac's technical manager, 183 initiatives aimed at restricting or banning the use of plastics are awaiting the approval of state legislators across Mexico.
"The entire national territory is regulated, with the exception of [the states of] Aguascalientes, Tlaxcala and Zacatecas," she said during a presentation in which she referred to the regulations and norms governing Mexico's plastics industry.
"It's a situation that has made the production and commercialization of consumer items difficult," she said. "What we are seeking is a regulatory framework that does not ban the use of plastics but rather offers recycling and composting as a solution."
She said consumers were confused over issues such as the use of paper and biodegradable products. There was "a clear lack of understanding as to the responsibility of society as a whole" towards plastics.