7 June 2018
On World Environment Day, Governments Announce Bans on Single-Use Plastics
UN Photo/Martine Perret
story highlights

On World Environment Day, India announced a commitment to eliminate all single-use plastics in the country by 2022.

The EC has proposed EU-wide rules that target the ten most common single-use plastics found on European beaches and seas.

The UN Environment Programme and Litterati, a technology firm, announced a collaboration to track progress on plastic pollution in real time.

5 June 2018: Governments, UN organizations and other entities launched partnerships and publications on World Environment Day (WED), which focused on the theme, ‘Beat Plastic Pollution.’ The Day represents a call to action for citizens around the world to consider how everyday changes can reduce the impact of plastic pollution on ecosystems and human health.

India, as the global host of WED, announced a plan to eliminate all single-use plastics in the country by 2022. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed to eliminate single-use plastics, saying “it is the duty of each one of us to ensure that the quest for material prosperity does not compromise our environment.” The Government of India will establish a national and regional marine litter action campaign and a program to measure marine plastic in India’s coastal waters. Indian states announced plans to reduce emissions and synthetic chemicals in agriculture.

Botswana, Chile and Peru also announced bans on plastic bags on WED, bringing the total countries participating in the UN Clean Seas campaign to over 50. Nigeria committed to establishing recycling plants and Brazil announced a national plan on plastic.

The European Commission launched an EU-wide awareness campaign to highlight the role of individuals in combating plastic pollution and marine litter. The campaign raises awareness of the EC’s proposed EU-wide rules targeting the ten single-use plastics most often found on Europe’s beaches and addressing lost and abandoned fishing gear. Together, these products represent 70 percent of all marine litter. The proposed rules are tailored to allow different measures to be applied to different plastic products based on available and affordable alternatives and to enable member States to choose how to reduce consumption and impose obligations. In situations where alternatives are not yet available, the rules encourage reduction in consumption, design and labeling requirements and waste management obligations for producers. The EC says the proposed measures will help to: avoid 3.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions; avoid environmental damages estimated to cost €22 billion by 2030; and save consumers an estimated €6.5 billion.

The proposed ban is line with commitments made in the European Plastic Strategy and will be forwarded to the European Parliament and Council for adoption. EC Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, explained that single-use plastics “are not a smart economic or environmental choice” and said the EC proposal “will help business and consumers to move towards sustainable alternatives.”

The International Olympic Committee announced a plan to eliminate single-use plastics from the IOC and its events, with the support of World Sailing, the International Association of Athletics Federations, the International Triathlon Union, the International Ice Hockey Federation, World Rugby, World Golf and the International Surfing Association and representatives from more than 20 National Olympic Committees. In line with the UN Clean Seas Campaign, the IOC’s Sustainability Strategy will focus on responsible resource management in its day-to-day operations at IOC headquarters and events as well as on encouraging best practices across the Olympics.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) and Litterati, a technology firm, announced a collaboration to track progress on plastic pollution in real time. Through the partnership, UNEP and Litterati will create evidence-based data to identify and map problem areas, develop insight into pollution behavior and work to mitigate future harm by driving change in regulation and industry and increasing citizen awareness.

National Geographic also launched a campaign, ‘Planet or Plastic?’. The multi-year effort aims to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis by sharing information about plastic pollution and suggesting options for reducing single-use plastics. Its website features articles on plastics, ranging from 10 shocking facts about plastic to an interactive feature on what happens to plastic that is thrown out. Users can take a pledge that can be shared on twitter or Facebook. Pledges focus on: reducing single-use plastics and making a lasting impact; bringing reusable shopping bags; carrying a reusable water bottle; skipping straws; and ending littering.

On WED, a number of other organization’s showcased efforts to tackle plastic pollution, while UNEP and partners launched two publications: ‘The State of Plastics’; and ‘Exploring the Potential for Adopting Alternative Materials to Reduce Marine Plastic Litter.’ [WED Press Release] [UNEP Press Release on India] [EC Press Release] [UNEP Press Release on IOC] [UNEP Press Release on Litterati] [Litterati Website] [UNEP Press Release on India Hosting WED] [National Geographic Initiative] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Plastic Publications]

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