Peruvian supermarket chain offers biodegradable alternative to single-use plastic bags

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages / daizuoxin
©GettyImages / daizuoxin

Related tags: Tax, Peru, plastic waste

Peruvian supermarket chain Tottus is selling compostable, non-plastic shopping bags made from corn starch to help fight plastic waste as Peru ramps up its nationwide plastic bag tax.

Peru's national plastic bag tax went into effect a week ago requiring all retailers to charge a S/0.10 (the equivalent of US$0.03) to shoppers who request single-use plastic bags from the retailer.

The funds collected from the plastic bag tax will go towards the National Environment Fund of Peru, a private organization dedicated to biodiversity conservation and other environmental protection efforts.

However, public opinion of the implementation of a bag tax has been less than positive with many Peruvians demanding the tax be taken away.

The tax of S/0.10 for each bag will increase in the coming years, said Peru's Deputy Minister of Enviromental Managament, Albina Ruiz.

By 2020 the plastic bag tax will be S/0.20 and S/0.50 in 2023.

Tottus introduces compostable bags

Supermarket retailer Tottus founded in Peru in 2002 and acquired by Chilean retailer Falabella in 2004, has 26 locations in metro areas throughout Chile and Peru.

The retailer conducted a pilot test where shoppers were offered the option to buy the biodegradable and compostable bags for S/0.15 that can support up to 5kg of weight. 

Tottus encourages shoppers to compost

The bags can then be used as compost at home once consumers are done using them, according to Tottus. 

TOTTUS-BOLSA-PLASTICA-BIODEGRADABLE

The bags are also able to transfer oxygen meaning that they are breathable and can preserve perishable items such as produce in the refrigerator for longer while reducing unpleasant odors caused from moisture.

As another added benefit, it guarantees better hygienic conditions in composting facilities and usually biodegrades within six months, according to Tottus.

In a statement (translated from Spanish) Tottus said: "Compostable bags, together with reusable bags, are the solutions we offer our clients so that together we reduce the use of plastic bags and thus promote responsible consumption, as part of our commitment to the environment and within the framework of the initiative of the Ministry of Environment."

The test was well received by shoppers, according to Tottus, and as a result the retailer reduced the number of plastic bags by 125 million.

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