This article has been translated from Spanish. To read the original version, click here.

A bill announced on Wednesday by president Michelle Bachelet will make Chile the only country in America to ban the usage of plastic bags in coastal cities.

“We are going to present a bill that will ban the usage of plastic bags in coastal cities within the next 12 months”, Bachelet said during the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, where she ratified her commitment towards the environment.

It will allow citizens to contribute in terms of ocean protection. Thus, we will be the first American country to implement a law of this nature”, added.

Such measure is of vital importance to marine species as these are negatively affected by the presence of plastic in the sea. They are even likely to perish due to the so-called buoyancy disorders.

According to data provided by the Chilean Ministry of the Environment, 90% of sea birds have a certain type of plastic in their stomachs, which urges to pass a law on the matter, specially given that studies foresee that, by 2050, there will be as many fish as plastic in the sea.

In light of Bachelet’s announcement, the minister of the Environment, Marcelo Mena, reminded that 60 cities have already taken measures of this nature and that the bill will be sent to Congress in October, with few or no impediments to assure its approval.

“The prohibition is fundamental so as to protect the oceans and their biodiversity. It also covers the issue of rubbish management with which we must deal in the short run, because the consequences put at risk the preservation of these species”, Mena explained.