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Ecuador: Law on Restrictions on the Use of Plastic Enters into Force

(Feb. 16, 2021) On December 21, 2020, the Organic Law for the Rationalization, Reuse and Reduction of Single Use Plastics entered into force in Ecuador through its publication in the Registro Oficial, the official gazette. The purpose of the law is to restrict the use of single-use plastic products.

Under the new law, the following will be prohibited within 12 months of the law’s enactment:

  • The sale and use of single-use plastic bags and containers for beverages and food for human consumption on islands and islets, beaches, river banks, lakes and lagoons, protective forests, and all those areas that are part of the National System of Protected Areas
  • The use of single-use plastic bags or wrappers for the delivery of printed advertising, newspapers, magazines and other written media formats, public or private service billing receipts, and account statements
  • The manufacturing and import for domestic distribution, marketing, delivery, and use of single-use plastic straws

Within 24 months of the law’s enactment, the following will be prohibited:

  • The manufacture and import, distribution, marketing, delivery, and use of single-use plastic bags that do not contain the minimum percentage of post-consumer recycled material in their composition
  • The manufacture and import, distribution, marketing, delivery, and use of single-use plastic bags and articles that include additives that catalyze the fragmentation of such materials into microplastics
  • The manufacture and import, distribution, marketing, delivery, and use of containers or containers and glasses for food and beverages for human consumption when the containers are derived from polystyrene—whether expanded, extruded, or foam—and do not contain the minimum percentage of post-consumer recycled material in their composition

The following will be prohibited within 36 months of the law’s enactment:

  • The manufacture and import, distribution, commercialization, delivery, and use in any modality of bags and single-use plastic wrappers whose manufacture does not contain the minimum percentage of post-consumer recycled material in their composition
  • The manufacture and import, distribution, marketing, delivery, and use of single-use plastic plates, glasses, and other utensils and tableware for food and beverages for human and animal consumption that are not recyclable or reusable and whose manufacturing does not contain the minimum percentage of post-consumer recycled material in their composition

The law also provides that businesses must charge consumers an amount not less than the unit cost for the use of any single-use plastic bags, containers, tableware, utensils, and other plastic objects.

In addition, businesses must to check whether customers wish to receive plastic products and agree to pay the required cost for their use.

The law excludes specific items from the prohibitions, such as plastic bags and packaging that constitute the primary container of bulk food of animal origin; plastic materials needed in food containers or for wet ingredients prepared according to technical environmental standards; single-use bags and containers used for cleaning, hygiene, personal care, health, or medical use; and polymeric-based straws attached to containers or products sold as one unit with a maximum capacity of 300 ml and which can be recycled with the container.

Packaging and containers used to maintain sanitary conditions and protect the population from viral and bacterial infections during a government-declared health emergency may be excluded from the prohibition.

Within six months of the enactment of the law, products with plastic components such as wet towels, sanitary towels, tampons, balloons, as well as disposable products such as lighters, razors, and supplies for printers and photocopiers must include a warning label for consumers to be aware that its improper disposal causes a negative impact on the environment.

The law provides that the Ministry of the Environment will create a national public registry of importers and producers of plastic, single-use plastic products and related materials to collect and systematize information on the single-use plastic market in the country. Registration will be mandatory for those involved in the commercialization of plastic in the country.

The law also stipulates that, to promote recycling and industrialization, the government must engage in the installation and operation of solid waste recovery centers.

Violators of the law will be subject to fines ranging from a US$400 to $8,000, according to the seriousness of the offense.