Santa Marta to Become Colombia’s First City to Phase Out Single Use Plastics, Styrofoam

October 29, 2018

Just one day following the EU’s historic announcement to begin phasing out single use plastics, the idyllic Caribbean city of Santa Marta, Colombia announced an ambitious plan to eliminate plastic and styrofoam by 2025.

Conservation International participated in the historic event along with a star studded cast of characters, including the Colombian rock band Aterciopelados. Conservation International has been working in Colombia since 1991.

The campaign to phase out single-use plastics and styrofoam is rooted in a municipal decree, jointly signed by Mayor Martinez and the head of the municipal environmental authority (DADSA) Carmen Caicedo. The program’s implementation involves a staged rollout, beginning with a four month socialization period, followed by increasingly severe sanctions ranging from community service to fines. Prior to announcing the campaign, several hundred citizens participated in a cleanup effort to remove plastics, styrofoam and other garbage from playa Los Cocos and the Manzanares River.

“Santa Marta and the Caribbean are home to irreplaceable biodiversity and a growing human population,” said Fabio Arjona, Director of Conservation International–Colombia. “Conservation and sustainable tourism are interdependent and today’s announcement to begin phasing out plastics is a huge step for Santa Marta and Colombia.”

In addition to its history of coastal-marine work in the region, Conservation International is conducting a sustainable tourism pilot project in nearby Minca with the goal of improving management of the Gaira river watershed in the face of increasing pressure from tourism and development. The project is part of a partnership with Tras la Perla, the foundation led by Colombian icon and music star Carlos Vives and his wife Claudia Elena Vazquez. Prior to the launch of the plastics campaign, Conservation International staff and other partners helped draw attention to the plight of ocean plastics, hosting the Plastic Ocean Foundation and award winning journalist and filmmaker Craig Leeson on a tour to present the film Plastic Oceans to students in Santa Marta and visit indigenous Arhuaco and Wayú communities.

About Conservation International

Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International, the groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign and its series of virtual reality projects: “My Africa”, “Under the Canopy” and “Valen’s Reef.” Follow Conservation International’s work on our Human Nature blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.