The plastic problem, and some solutions

World Environment Day 2018: Green globe

That plastic straw you threw out after you finished your milkshake, those plastic containers in which the restaurant home-delivered your food last weekend – chances are they are lying in some landfill somewhere in your city, stubbornly refusing to decompose. This goes for every bit of plastic you might have ever thrown out. Take a look at the efforts some countries are taking to reduce plastic use.


In 2016, France became the first country in the world to ban plastic plates, cups, cutlery and utensils. The ban will come into effect in 2020. The only exception will be for items made of compostable, biosourced materials. The country previously announced a total ban on plastic bags in grocery stores and markets.


In early 2018, China banned imports of recyclable plastic from other countries. This is a wake-up call for countries around the world, and a major shift in the country’s stand. Before the ban, China had been importing close to seven million tonnes of plastic scrap per year.


Rwanda’s efforts against plastic has earned it appreciation from other countries. In this African country, it is illegal to import, produce, use or sell plastic bags and packaging. Those carrying plastic bags could be fined or jailed. These efforts seem to be paying off – Rwanda is known to be one of the cleanest nations in Africa. It is also said that it is looking at becoming the first plastic-free country in the world.


This small country in East Africa has taken big steps towards curbing plastic pollution. In 2017, it announced one of the world’s harshest ban on plastic bags. Anyone producing, selling, or even carrying one could face an imprisonment of up to four years or a fine of around $40,000. Though people may be struggling to find cheap alternatives, the clean-up is believed to be changing lives.


In what could be considered one of the farthest-reaching bans on plastic in the world, Taiwan announced a blanket ban on single-use plastic items such as straws, cups and shopping bags by 2030. From 2025, customers will have to pay extra for items like these, and five years later, the full ban will come into effect.


Made up of around 80 islands in the Pacific Ocean, Vanuatu is on the way to being known for more than just its spectacular beaches and clear waters. The country recently announced a ban on plastic bags, drinking straws and polystyrene foam, becoming the first country in the Pacific to do so. The only exception is the plastic that is used to carry fish and meat. The country eventually aims to become completely plastic-free.


Did you know that expanded polystyrene, a material used to pack food, can take up to a million years to decompose? Zimbabwe banned this material in 2017. Those found violating the ban face hefty fines. The ban is part of a wider action plan to free the country of the litter menace.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 6:34:17 AM |

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