This is what countries are doing to fight plastic waste

UN Environment Plastics 2018

Cyril Villemain/UNEP Local people from Watamu, Kenya, work with Local Ocean Conservation to pick up plastic on the beach.

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Briony Harris, Formative Content

The world is entering a new era in its relationship with plastic.

What was once a miracle product has become public enemy number one.

Plastic’s success is largely due to the fact that it is cheap and light, revolutionizing safe food storage, helping save lives in the health sector and facilitating the manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels.

And this success has led to the generation of a vast quantity of plastic waste over the past 60 years, as shown in the graph below.

More than 300 million tons of plastic waste was generated in 2015
Image: UN Environment

Now however, concerted action is being taken to reverse that trend. More than 50 nations – from the Galapagos Islands to India and from Rwanda to China – are taking action to reduce plastic pollution.

The UN has compiled a list of what each of these countries is doing – and the success they are having – in a new report called Single-use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability.

The aim of the report is to give governments a benchmark for effective policy making.

Black market

The report finds that the bulk of the action being taken is concentrated around the use of single-use plastics.

The graph shows the enormous rise in action in this area from 2014 onwards.

Regulations regarding single-use plastic are soaring
Image: UNEP

Just this month, India’s Prime Minister pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022, with an immediate ban in urban Delhi.

The plan announced by Narendra Modi is by far the most ambitious of any nation to date, due to the sheer size of the Indian population and the fact that the country is the fastest growing economy in the world.

Many other European countries have introduced a levy on plastic bags, while China, Kenya and Morocco have implemented a ban on thin plastic bags.

The report states that government levies and bans – when properly planned and enforced – have been among the most effective strategies to limit the overuse of disposable plastic products.

However, some countries, such as Bangladesh and Cameroon, have introduced a ban on plastic bags but have not followed through with appropriate enforcement.

This can lead to a rise in the black market of the bags, or the use of thicker plastic bags that are not covered by the bans, which can end up causing even more damage to the environment.

The report also notes that public-private partnerships and voluntary agreements can be good alternatives to bans, giving consumers time to adjust their behaviour and allowing time for enough affordable and eco-friendly alternatives to hit the market.

A mammoth task

Despite the progress being made, the report also warns that far more needs to be done to reduce the vast flow of plastic into rivers and oceans.

Of the 141 million tonnes of plastic waste that was generated in 2015, just 14% was recycled, as seen in the following chart.

The vast majority of plastic packaging waste ends up as litter
Image: UNEP

It’s clear that there needs to be a dramatic increase in this recyclability rate if the plastic problem is to be solved. Innovation from the private sector in recyclable materials – such as bioplastics – that can be used for packaging, and new ways to incentivise recycling are just two areas for further development.

“Plastic isn’t the problem. It’s what we do with it,” says Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

“And that means the onus is on us to be far smarter in how we use this miracle material.”

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

HPV vaccine: the silver bullet that saves women

Is there a chance for the West to win the war on terror?

Five years down the drain

4 things to know about the state of conflict today

Europe again the black sheep at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors

Towards a tobacco free India

Climate change: Direct and indirect impacts on health

MWC 2016 LIVE: Xiaomi looks to revive growth with flagships

Why Eurozone’s problems may end in a few months

Work Together to Build a New Type of International Relations and a Community with a Shared Future for Humanity

Greece to stay in the euro area but the cost to its people remains elusive

Who will secure Lithuania?

5 technologies that will forever change global trade

To hope or doubt? The state of women’s progress in the world

UN, Somali Government seek $80 million in immediate relief for flood-affected populations

How do we build an ethical framework for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

An American duel in Brussels: Salesforce against Microsoft over Linkedin deal

Guinea President Alpha Condé: “We must tackle the root causes of migration”

VW emissions scandal: While U.S. car owners are vindicated, Europe still unable to change its laws and protect its consumers

A new catastrophic phase in the Syrian carnage

‘Two pack’ austerity package in force but with less vigor

Eurozone and Britain heading in different directions

This is what countries are doing to fight plastic waste

5 ways to net a sustainable future for aquaculture

COP21 Breaking News_10 December:#ParisAgreement: Points that remain in suspense

DiscoverEU: 15,000 travel passes up for grabs to explore the EU this summer

European Fund for Transition to support more workers made redundant

A day in the life of a refugee: the role of nations and citizens of the world

Jade Spring Meeting 2017 – day 2: Coporate workshops, general assembly and magna moment

How can we build a workforce for our digital future?

“Leaked” TTIP document breaks post 8th negotiations round silence and opens door to critics

New UN agriculture agency report underscores value of fishing in fight against global hunger

Service and Sacrifice: For Ghana, UN peacekeeping is a ‘noble opportunity to serve humanity’

The UN supports Europe’s military action in Libya and the Mediterranean; Russia and China agree

Achieving targets on energy helps meet other Global Goals, UN forum told

The Changing Scope of International Economic Relations – Chinese Leadership in the 21st Century

EU to present a “hefty” exit bill to the UK moments before Brexit negotiations

A Sting Exclusive: Towards better business opportunities for the EU and its neighbours, Commissioner Hahn live from European Business Summit 2015

These clothes grow with your child

UN’s AIDS agency ‘greatly encouraged’ by latest scientific breakthrough showing cure is possible

Counting spillovers from the fast track EU-US free trade agreement

What the car industry has done to help fight climate change – and what it needs to do next

What data dominance really means, and how countries can compete

Gig economy: Employment Committee MEPs want to boost workers’ rights

‘Crimes against humanity,’ ‘war crimes’ and risk of new ethnic violence in DR Congo, warn UN experts

Everything you need to know about the US government shutdown

The world’s e-waste is a huge problem. It’s also a golden opportunity

Trump’s blasting win causes uncertainty and turbulence to the global financial markets

French elections: by the time the EU economy revives and the migration crisis is solved extremists could take over Europe

South Sudan: UN condemns ‘brutal’ sexual assaults on roads to Bentiu

Project Manager – 2024

EU-US resume trade negotiations under the spell of NSA surveillance

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: “Europe must listen to the people”

These coastal countries are sinking the fastest

European Union: From financial consolidation to deeper political division

Volkswagen scandal update: “We want clarity fast, but it is equally important to have the complete picture”, Commission’s spokesperson underscores from Brussels

What the global Internet’s stakeholders can learn from Europe’s new data law

Parliament backs a modernised EU electoral law

Women in Iceland have walked out of work to dispute the gender pay gap

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s