Panama has become the first Central American country to officially ban single-use plastic bags.
The nation of around 4 million people on Saturday joined more than 60 other nations in banning the bags in an effort to clean up the country’s beaches and preserve ocean wildlife, Reuters reported.
Although the ban was officially approved by lawmakers in 2018, supermarkets pharmacies and other smaller stories in Panama now have to stop using plastic bags and giving them to shoppers immediately. Wholesale stores in the country will have until 2020 to comply with the ban.
Those that do not adhere to the ban can face fines.
Plastic bags will be allowed for certain exceptions, like for the use of raw food, Reuters reported. Acodeco, a Panama government consumer protection agency, advised shoppers to take reusable bags with them when they go shopping.
Along the streets of Panama City, signs reading “less bags, more life” popped up in support of the measure, the news outlet reported.
Multiple cities and states in the United States have implemented similar bans.