Plastic Ban Benefits Guatemalan Communities


Editorial Policy

Published on

Last updated on

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. Photo by John Cameron

[H]ere in the U.S., straw bans seem revolutionary, daring restaurants and cafés to refrain from handing out hundreds of single-use plastic straws every day. However, Portland and Seattle can’t hold a candle compared to San Pedro La Laguna’s blanket ban of all single-use plastics. This small community of 13,000 people, residing alongside Guatemala’s picturesque Lake Atitlán, banned plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic straws, Styrofoam containers, plastic spoons and forks, and so much more, back in 2016. The change came about after a solid waste disposal plant that was designed to process a decade’s worth of waste was filled halfway after only six months. Not only that, but the treasured Lake Atitlán was becoming polluted with debris from all the trash the town produced.

Atlas Obscura recently covered how the town invested in durable hand-woven rubber baskets to replace disposable grocery bags and how the local government helped ease the change by exchanging plastic and Styrofoam items for reusable or biodegradable options, free of charge.

Now, if a street vendor is caught packaging or selling merchandise in plastic or Styrofoam, they will be charged anywhere between $150 and $650 for a fine—a hefty fee in a community where the average worker makes $11 a day. Instead of plastic, residents now use banana leaves or newspaper to purchase takeaway food, fill their rubber baskets during a trip to the market, and use paper cups instead of Styrofoam.

Share This Article

Fresh Cup Staff

Join 7,000+ coffee pros and get top stories, deals, and other industry goodies in your inbox each week.

Other Articles You May Like

A New Chapter for Taza Presidencial, A Bolivian-Born Coffee Quality Competition

Quality-focused competitions have fueled coffee improvements in Bolivia. But when government funding ran out for Taza Presidencial, local coffee professionals made sure the competition stayed alive.
by Sandra Elisa Loofbourow | September 8, 2023

Direct Trade via Direct Message: How Instagram is Facilitating a New Kind of Coffee Connection

One morning in 2022, I walked into work to find an envelope of green coffee samples from a source I wasn’t familiar with. My boss told me they came from a Costa Rican coffee…
by Fionn Pooler | August 30, 2023

A Look at the Future of Fine Robusta Through Vietnamese Specialty Coffee

For years, Robusta has gotten a bad rep, but people are beginning to reconsider its potential. Vietnam may already have the blueprint for the future of Robusta.
by Mikey Rinaldo | August 11, 2023

In India, Black Baza Champions Sustainability and Smallholder Farmers

Black Baza Coffee aims to support smallholder coffee farmers pursuing biodiversity on their farms while guaranteeing them a fair price for their crops.
by Sohel Sarkar | July 12, 2023