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Finally, Law 5414/15 to promote the reduction of the use of polyethylene plastic will come into force in the country from July 1 of this year. The regulation aims to regulate the use of single-use polyethylene (rubber) bags for bags made with non-polluting and reusable alternative biodegradable materials, provided that they are certified by the National Certification Body (ONC) of the National Institute for Standardization and Metrology. (INTN).
Supermarkets, self-services, municipal and private market gondolas, warehouses and businesses in general (retailers and wholesalers) must abide by what is established, otherwise, they are exposed to heavy fines of between 10 and 500 minimum wages.
Starting next month, customers will have various paths in this regard: on the one hand, they will have the option of purchasing –from the establishment– the reusable polyethylene bag (which is thicker), recyclable or biodegradable, or they must bring their own bags, whether made of fabric, tnt, raffia or other material for loading their products.
However, single-use plastic bags may continue to be used only for health or safety issues (food safety), to wrap/contain fresh and/or moist foods such as meat and vegetables, as established in article 9 of the new and postponed law.
Currently and for four years, businesses can charge for single-use polyethylene bags, as established by Resolution No. 353/2017, starting from the fourth bag, on the following scale: small bag, G. 100; medium, G. 150; large, G. 200 and extra large, G. 250.
Meanwhile, there are already guidelines to produce reusable polyethylene bags, certified by the ONC under the Paraguayan Standard for Reusable Bags. In fact, some establishments are already offering this type of packaging. However, work continues on the standard for the production and certification of biodegradable and compostable bags.
Regarding how much the reusable or eco-friendly polyethylene bags will cost the consumer, these have not yet been disclosed and the possibility of establishing reference prices via ministerial resolution is seen.
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Businesses that use another type of final merchandise storage (such as cardboard boxes) may continue to do so, as long as they are reusable or recyclable. In addition, each establishment must already work on how it will implement the use of the bags. For example, if I enter a supermarket, they must tell me if I can move with the bag inside the facilities, or if I have to leave it in a specific sector and then go to the checkout.
Businesses cannot deny the customer the entry of a bag that bears another logo. This type of incident related to access can be reported to the Secretary of Consumer Protection. Regarding control, compliance with the law and execution of sanctions will be in charge of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MIC).
Currently, there are approximately 40 companies that manufacture single-use polyethylene bags, most of them being able to produce certified reusable polyethylene bags, with four companies currently certified and nine in the process of being certified by the INTN. Also, some firms already produce biodegradable bags and are waiting for the relevant standard and certification, according to data provided by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Vice Ministry of Commerce and General Directorate of Domestic Trade.
They will become history
The regulation, whose entry into force has been delayed, comes into force in our country with the aim of responding to the various problems caused by the misuse (under the culture of throwing away) of disposable polyethylene plastic bags to the environment and consequently, to the quality of life of people. Starting this June, an awareness campaign has been announced for merchants and consumers about the law and its scope.
It is noteworthy that the Court of Appeals processed an amparo filed by a group and even summoned the MIC to comply with the lengthy law in 2020. However, the entity went to the Executive and requested an extension for its implementation. Thus, in October of last year it was resolved that while the health emergency law lasted, it would not be in force and therefore it will come into force in July of this year.
The fines for businesses that break the law range from 10 to 500 daily wages, that is, from G. 840,340 to G. 42,170,000.