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Costa Rica To Go 100% Plastic and Carbon-Free By 2021

Costa Rica To Go 100% Plastic and Carbon-Free By 2021

Madeline Barone

As environmental sustainability continues to become increasingly relevant, solutions to combat the climate crisis have never been more necessary. Puerto Rico and others have already started implementing initiatives to become more environmentally friendly. But no country has made as much environmental progress as Costa Rica.

The Happy Planet Index, which takes into account countries’ environmental impact and wellbeing, ranked Costa Rica 1st in the world. Considering Costa Rica’s current carbon-footprint is only one-third the size of the United States, its ranking is no surprise.

Costa Rica’s Green Initiatives

Costa Rica imposes fossil fuel fuels taxes as a means to finance forest protection and investment in renewable energy. These taxes have allowed the country to double its forest size over the last 30 years. Consequently, the country has seen a growing carbon sink across the country.

The country also introduced the Carbon Neutral Framework. The framework incentivizes companies to partake in good environmental practices.

Costa Rica taxes fossil fuels to finance forest protection efforts.
Costa Rica taxes fossil fuels to finance forest protection efforts.

Another initiative is Eco-Marchamo, one where vehicle owners are required to pay for carbon offsets that cover 100% of their emissions. Thus far, no other country has anything similar.

Despite its already-ambitious goals, the country aims to be the first completely plastic and carbon-free country in the world by 2021. If there’s one country that would be able to accomplish this, it would be Costa Rica.

Assets and Advantages

With 99% of the country’s energy coming from renewable resources since 2014, Costa Rica has had a dedication to cleaner energy for years. In 2018, Costa Rica ran solely on renewable energy for 300 days. The country hopes to scale this effort up to far beyond 2018.

Costa Rica is home to the largest hydroelectric plant in Central America.
Costa Rica is home to the largest hydroelectric plant in Central America.

Additionally, the country is home to the largest hydroelectric plant in Central America, which is located on the Reventazón River. The plant accompanies seven wind turbine plants, six hydroelectric plants, and a solar plant. Numerically, 75% of their renewable energy comes from hydroelectric power generated by the river water alone.

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In terms of plastic use, the country aims to replace all plastics with alternatives that are 100% recyclable or biodegradable.

Costa Rica’s Environmental Future

Carlos Alvarado Quesada is optimistic about Costa Rica's environmental future.
Carlos Alvarado Quesada is optimistic about Costa Rica’s environmental future.

Costa Rica’s president, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, is optimistic about Costa Rica’s environmental future. Quesada stated that “Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish [decarbonization], if not the first.” A lofty goal, but for a country that works as hard on sustainability as Costa Rica, it doesn’t seem impossible.

As the country continues to stay dedicated to environmental stewardship, other nations are likely to follow suit. If it will truly be able to become 100% plastic and carbon-free by 2021, it will be a huge milestone. We’ll have to see.

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