A popular tourist destination and famed surfers’ paradise has become the first municipality in Puerto Rico to ban businesses from handing out single-use plastic bags. Officials in the town of Rincon, on the far western edge of Puerto Rico, have announced the ban will take effect in February of 2015. Businesses that don’t comply will face fines of between $100 and $500. Money generated from fines will be used to benefit environmental programs, officials said.
According to Rincon Mayor Carlos Lopez, businesses will be allowed to offer recycled paper bags for sale. Otherwise, customers will need to bring their own bags, which can include reusable totes. Lopez hopes Rincon’s ban will urge other localities in Puerto Rico to take similar action, noting plastic bags have been affecting local marine life.
While legislators in Puerto Rico have considered laws that let businesses charge customers for plastic bags, to date no island-wide measure has passed.