A Greener Future For Costa Rica.

By Silvanna Pacheco, June 23rd, 2024

As of April 20th, Costa Rica has banned single-use plastics, making a big stride towards protecting its pristine environment.

The new law prohibits the commercialization and free delivery of single-use plastic straws and plastic bags. It also prohibits new acquisitions or purchases of single-use plastic articles by all public administration institutions, public companies, and municipalities. Additionally, importers, producers, marketers, and distributors of single-use plastic bottles, or products packaged in such bottles, must meet specific requirements.

Photo: Zdenek Machacek

But going plastic-free isn’t easy. The country needs to keep promoting these changes with the public and private sectors and help create strategic plans like offering guidelines for suppliers, creating replacement of single-use plastic products as well as creating social awareness.

We all know plastic pollution is a huge problem. It ends up in our oceans, harming wildlife and even entering our food chain. Here in Costa Rica, the impact is especially concerning. The country generates a staggering 60 tons of plastic waste daily!

Marine animals bear the burden of this influx of garbage into their habitats. Beached whales have been found with stomachs full of plastic trash. And recent studies found plastic in the guts of 90 percent of the seabirds tested and 100 percent of the turtles. Alarmingly, scientists estimate that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by weight in 2050.

However, Costa Rica has a history of environmental leadership. Back in 1996, they launched the “Bandera Azul Ecológica” program, an award that recognizes beaches, hotels, and businesses committed to sustainable practices. This initiative has helped educate the public and promote responsible tourism. Today, over 136 beaches proudly display the Blue Flag.

Photo by Bernd Dittrich.

Bans like this one can have a positive ripple effect. Businesses are forced to innovate, finding new ways to package products and offer services without relying on single-use plastics. This shift also encourages consumers to rethink their habits and embrace a more sustainable lifestyle.

Planning your Costa Rican adventure? Here’s how you can contribute:

  • Pack a reusable bag for shopping.
  • Avoid takeaway containers.
  • Choose products with minimal packaging.
  • Invest in a good reusable water bottle and refill it whenever possible.
  • At your hotel hang up towels to reuse them and request housekeeping services less frequently.

These small changes, combined with Costa Rica’ s big efforts, will make a world of difference for this beautiful country and our planet.