Press Release

Chile launches pilot program to eliminate single-use plastic cups

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2023

By Fundación Chile 

This is a machine translation of the original press release issued in Spanish

"Don't take me, give me back so they can reuse me," reads each of the 10,000 glasses that are part of the trays in the Mallplaza Egaña food court, as part of the first pilot project in Chile that seeks to help eliminate the pollution problem generated by disposable plastic cups. With this, the establishments adhering to the initiative will be able to anticipate by one year the requirement of the Single Use Plastics Law (PUSU), which stipulates that in August 2024 no food establishment will be able to use products that are not reusable.

The launching activity of this campaign included the participation of the Minister of the Environment, Maisa Rojas; the ambassador of the European Union in Chile, León De la Torre; the deputy manager of Sustainable Consumption and Production of Fundación Chile and team leader of the CPAP project in Chile, Karien Volker; Mallplaza Operations Manager, Antonio Braghetto; and the mayor of La Reina, José Manuel Palacios.

The Minister of the Environment, Maisa Rojas, referred to the problem of single-use plastics and the relevance of preparing for the new regulations of the PUSU law: "Contamination by plastics is one of the environmental crises that we face as humanity. In Chile we have the Single-Use Plastics Law, which aims to prevent the generation of waste that later ends up in nature, affecting our fauna, especially marine life. In this line, I think this pilot program is very important, because it anticipates the new steps that the Single Plastics Law will establish and it is a lesson that it is possible to incorporate sustainable practices that benefit all of us," she said.

This unprecedented pilot to replace disposable cups in a food court is supported by the Circular Plastic in the Americas Program (CPAP), a program funded by the European Union (EU) that aims to strengthen EU cooperation with Chile, through a set of activities and initiatives that support a transition towards a more circular economy, in line with the European Strategy for Plastics and the European Green Pact.

In this regard, Ambassador León De la Torre pointed out: "We are very happy to start 2023 with this activity, a concrete example to reduce single-use plastics in the country and that is the result of collaboration between all participating organizations, public and private. The European Union has set the goal that all EU packaging be reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030. Chile also set a similar goal and this initiative seeks precisely to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns to achieve it.”

The mayor of La Reina, José Manuel Palacios, also appreciated the initiative: “At La Reina we are very happy to be able to kick off this program together with Mallplaza, the Ministry of the Environment, the European Union and Fundación Chile. It is essential to move towards reducing the carbon footprint that each company has, especially when we see important transformations that also invite us as citizens to commit to caring for our planet.”

The reusable cups that arrive at the Mallplaza Egaña food court are part of the actions defined in the "Plaza 0" operation model, an initiative developed by Mallplaza, with the support of the company B Huella Verde, which seeks to ensure that the of meals are spaces free of single-use containers, through the incorporation of reusable crockery and cutlery in the Mallplaza food court premises.

“As a company we are committed to climate action and to be mobilizing agents of change. In this line, Plaza 0 allows us to advance in our goal of having spaces that are completely free of single-use plastics and, through the incorporation of reusable cups, we strengthen and scale the impact of this initiative, through this alliance with Fundación Chile, the European Union and hand in hand with our gastronomic partners,” explained Antonio Braghetto, Mallplaza Operations Manager.

Plaza 0 began its operation in March 2022 at Mallplaza Egaña and, to date, four brands are already part of the initiative: Buffet Express, Doggis, Tommy Beans and Sushi Blues.   

The reuse of the cups delivered by the campaign is carried out once the consumers leave their tray at the reception point of the food court, where the segregation is made according to the type of waste, deriving the organic matter to a digester. Subsequently, the glasses along with the rest of the reusable crockery are taken to a washing and sanitizing room.

The organic remains, meanwhile, are treated in the digester, which transforms them into a liquid rich in nutrients with which both the green areas and the urban garden located on the roof of the shopping center are irrigated, the harvest of which is delivered to the members that are part of the initiative, thus closing the cycle of comprehensive waste management.

Along with the delivery of the cups, this pilot considers training the heads of the food court premises and the workers of the premises on the PUSU law, to raise awareness among those who will be delivering the reusable cups so that they understand relevance and are committed to managing habit change among diners.

"The awareness of tenants is very important because the PUSU law is gradually being applied to them and these campaigns are an opportunity to prepare for the new regulations. Likewise, citizen awareness is key for these campaigns to achieve a greater impact and we can move collaboratively towards a circular model. With this initiative we show that everyday decisions can have a great environmental impact. In one hour in the Mallplaza Egaña food court, approximately 681 glasses are thrown away. We can make a difference in reducing waste by using these reusable cups," said Karien Volker, assistant manager of Sustainable Consumption and Production at Fundación Chile and team leader of the CPAP project in Chile.

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