Peru to phase out throw-away plastic bags in three years

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru has joined the club of countries cracking down on plastic.

A new law in the South American nation of 32 million people outlaws the manufacturing, importation, distribution and consumption of single-use plastic bags within three years. Straws and other plastic products that cannot be recycled will also be prohibited.

The phase-out was proposed by the government of centrist President Martin Vizcarra and sailed through the opposition-controlled Congress late on Wednesday.

The law’s unanimous passage underscored growing support for efforts to tackle mounting plastic waste that winds up in oceans, rivers and soil and makes its way into the food chain.

More than 60 countries now have bans or taxes on single-use plastics, according to the United Nations, which has called for such measures to stem the tide of pollution.

Of the 9 billion tonnes of plastic the world has produced, only 9 percent has been recycled, the United Nations has said.

Peru, a tourist destination celebrated for its seafood dish ceviche, has some 1,500 miles of Pacific coastline. The environment ministry has promoted the use of reusable bags with the campaign “I don’t want this in my ceviche.”

“This cultural change relies on our daily decisions and convictions,” Environment Minister Fabiola Munoz said on Twitter.

Reporting by Teresa Cespedes; writing by Mitra Taj; editing by Jonathan Oatis