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Guatemala's Antigua bans plastics

August 15, 2018

The city of Antigua said the measure was "in the national interest" and to boost the historic city's conservation efforts. Citizens will have six months to dispose of their plastic products prior to implementation.

Antigua Guatemala with the Water Volcano in the background
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/U. S. Meschede

The city of Antigua, a popular tourist hub and UNESCO World Heritage Site, announced on Tuesday that it will prohibit the use of plastic bags, utensils and straws, in an effort to crack down on pollution and protect the environment. The new measure is set to go into effect in February 2019.

Antigua is the third of 240 Guatemalan municipalities to enact such an environmentally focused ban. Authorities are hoping to replace plastic with alternatives, such as biodegradable products.

Read more: Putting people before palm oil in Guatemala

In an official declaration, the government of Antigua explained that the decision to ban plastic was made in order to diminish the "great damage" that these products pose to the environment. In particular, Antiguan officials pointed to the measure as being "in the national interest" and to boost the city's conservation efforts.

Prior to implementation, Antigua will install a hub to collect banned plastic products from citizens, which would then be disposed off outside of the municipality. Locals will have 180 days to comply and get rid of their plastic, before fines kick in.

Once the ban is in full effect, noncompliance with the ban will result in a fine of 300 quetzales (€35) for individuals. Vendors and big firms who use or commercialize banned plastics will face a fine of 3,000 and 7,500 quetzales respectively. Fines would double for repeated offenses.

Antigua is the oldest colonial city in Guatemala, founded in 1527
Antigua is the oldest colonial city in Guatemala, founded in 1527Image: picture-alliance/robertharding/C. Kober

Antigua, or "Old City," was once the most important seat of the Spanish colonial government in Central America. The city, formerly known as Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, dates back to 1527 and it lies at the foot of the Water Volcano.

Read more: Maya finds shed new light on lost civilization

Today, Antigua is Guatemala's most popular tourist destination, owing to numerous colonial ruins that have turned the city into a picturesque museum of Spanish colonial history.

The city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

jcg/jm (EFE, dpa)

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