Peru Bans Single-Use Plastics
Following the lead of many nations around the world, Peru has officially joined the fight against plastic pollution. This past year the Peruvian congress passed an ambitious national law with the goal to discourage and significantly reduce the use of single-use plastics. The new legislation regulates the consumption and production of disposables, such as plastic bags, straws, foam packaging and plastic tableware. More restrictions are planned to follow over the next 3 years with limits placed on plastic’s manufacture for domestic use, import, distribution, delivery and trade. The new law also enforces a tax on plastic bags, and requires that plastic bottles contain 15 percent recycled materials. Plastic waste is huge problem in Peru, and around the world. We are glad to see the Peruvian government implementing a strategy to reduce plastic waste in the country.
Here at Amazonia Expeditions we have long seen the impact that plastic pollution has had on the Iquitos region, especially in Iquitos city. As you may know, Iquitos is essentially an island surrounded by impenetrable forest, isolated from the outside world. This mean that everything that comes into Iquitos – stays in Iquitos. Simply, there is just not enough places to throw away garbage. It is also a cultural issue, as many find it much easier to just throw their trash in the river and make it the problem of the person downstream.
For the first year, this ban will apply only in protected areas and reserves. This means places like the Area de Conservacion Tamshiyacu Tahuayo. At our rainforest facilities, for the past several years we have already worked to reduce or plastic usage at our facilities. Here are a few things we have done as a company to reduce and minimize the use of plastics:
• 2 years ago, we implemented an organization-wide campaign to reduce plastic waste and minimize plastic usage with the goal of eventually achieving “Zero plastic” waste at our facilities.
• Boxed lunches (eaten before boat ride to the lodge) are now only packaged only with paper. These paper bags are then collected by staff and reused in Iquitos to use as packing material for bottles and other fragile items that will be transported to the lodge (instead of plastic packing materials).
• The lodge does not use plastic tableware, instead using metal, ceramics, or glass. Anything else is made from certified compostable materials. Water is stored in large coolers and then can be drank from reusable water bottles.
• This year began our sustainable supplier policy focused on reducing plastic waste for our large shipments. We have done this by shipping supplies (food, cleaning supplies, laundry supplies) in fewer, but larger containers thus minimize plastic waste. Example: kitchen oil is now purchased in 18L containers instead of 3L containers. Furthermore, many dry food supplies are now be shipped in larger reusable plastic containers, instead of small prepackaged bags.
• All personnel received up to date training from our environmental impact manager in effective waste management. We hold regular employee workshops with a focus on minimizing plastic usage.
• Safety signs around the lodge have been made in the artisanal way (carved in wood), instead of plastic.
• Plastic garbage bags are still used at the lodge to handle waste, however, simply by implementing a better waste management strategy at the lodges we were able to minimize our garbage bag usage by over 50% this past year.
• Education in local villages – this past year Angels of the Amazon sponsored a group of children nicknamed SANTA (Children of the Tahuayo for Environmental Action) to help pick up plastic waste in the Tahuayo River. This has turned into a permanent project which organizes every few months to remove any trash from the river. More importantly it helps educate the next generation on the damage that plastic can have on the environment.
These are just a few of the initiatives we have taken as a company over the past 2 years. Hopefully we can eventually reach our goal of becoming truly zero plastic! It is not an easy goal, but as an Ecotourism company it is part of our mission to set an example for environmental awareness. Hopefully all of Peru (and the world) continues moving in a similar direction.
We want to hear! What initiatives have you taken to minimize plastic waste in your own home or business?