In Panama, more than 102,000 tons of garbage are discharged into the sea annually
Studies by the United Nations Environment Program indicate that in Panama and the world, 60% to 80% of marine litter is plastic.
The Ministry of the Environment detailed Panama's progress to achieve healthy and clean seas, however it recognizes that there is still much work to be done.
Statistical data from this entity reveal that each year Panama discharges 102,229 tons of marine litter generated on land into the sea. Of that total, about 61,553 tons per year come from human activities in urban areas and 40,675 tons per year from human activities in rural areas, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in a regional report published in the year 2019.
For its part, the Marea Verde Foundation in its floating barrier in the Matías Hernández River in 2019, indicated that the floating solid waste with the greatest presence in the riverbed, by weight, were:
- PET plastic bottles with 29.50%
- Foam with 17.20%
- High-density polyethylene containers with 6.10%
- Textiles with 5.30%
This confirms the UNEP data, which indicates that 60% to 80% of marine litter is plastic.
Faced with this reality, the Ministry of the Environment (MiAmbiente) seeks to promote sustainable development through the progressive replacement of products that use single-use plastics with sustainable alternatives that generate less impact on the environment and health.
For this, several legislative initiatives have been enacted and proposed:
In 2018, Law No. 1 of January 19 of that year was enacted, "which adopts measures to promote the use of reusable bags in commercial establishments." According to data from the National Customs Authority of Panama, since the implementation of this law, there has been a 33% decrease in the entry of polyethylene plastic bags into the country, contributing to reduce consumption levels of this material.
On July 1, 2021, Law 187 came into force that establishes the regulatory framework on single-use plastics in the national territory, such as the sale of plastic ear swabs, plastic covers for laundry clothes, rods plastic to hold balloons, plastic toothpicks, plastic cocktail sticks, plastic candy sticks and rings for cans.
In July 2022, the law that eliminates plastic packaging for eggs, disposable plastic stirrers and disposable plastic dishes will come into effect; while in December 2023 there will be the elimination of plastic reeds
A study on the Distribution of plastic waste in the Pacific and Caribbean Beaches of Panama, carried out by scientist Denise Del Valle and collaborators, highlights that the concentration of plastic particles found on the Pacific beaches is lower compared to the coast of the Caribbean.
It is expected that with these legislations that will soon come into force, it will be possible to significantly reduce the negative environmental impact. They call on the population to collaborate in caring for the earth.