Are plastics finally about to go the way of the dodo bird? It seems that nations across the world are finally taking actions against plastic. Just recently, one of my home countries Canada is banning single use plastics by 2021. Single use plastics especially are finally being regulated across the globe, which is super exciting. Every year, almost 8 Million metric tonnes of plastics enter the ocean resulting in harm to marine wildlife, causing collection of non-biodegradable plastics and forming the Great Pacific garbage patch.
Now some of you might ask, which other nations are taking initiatives against plastics? The answers may surprise you.
There are surprisingly many African nations on the list who are doing a great job in prevention of plastic and Kenya is at the forefront. Kenya has the severest bans as of 2017 for using, producing and selling plastic bags. The punishments include a jail sentence of up to 4 years and a $38,000 fine. Due to these regulations, people of Kenya are starting to improvise and innovate by using banana leaves as a replacement for plastic bags.
Vanuatu is the first Pacific Island nation that is banning both plastic bottles and bags as of July 30th, 2017. Pretty cool that this small nation is taking such large steps and initiatives that many bigger nations have not undertaken.
United Kingdom is one of the few larger nations who have announced a 25-year plan to set a “Gold Standard” as of January 2018. The first part of the plan was to phase out the use of microbeads. Also, a tax on plastic bags have allowed its reduction by 9 Billion fewer in circulation. By next year, all plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers will be banned. One of the few great examples of a wealthy and powerful nation who is doing their part for the reduction of plastics.
By 2030, Taiwan will phase out single use plastics such as straws, plastic bags, utensils and cups.
France was the first developed nation in the world to wage war against plastics and announce the total ban of single use plastics by 2020. This is part of their environmental effort announced in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gases and to use more renewable energy sources.
Rwanda is another leading example like Kenya in Africa who have banned the use of plastics in 2008. Carrying plastics can earn you a jail sentence in Rwanda and according to Plastic Oceans organization, Rwanda should become plastic free as of 2020.
Zimbabwe is in a list of many African countries (You rock Africa!) that has banned the use of polystyrene food packages throughout the nation. Violation of the law causes a penalty fine in Zimbabwe.
Another African nation of Morocco has launched a landmark bill as of July 2016 to ban plastic bags. Seriously, I am starting to love Africa even more. Morocco used 3 Billion plastic bags every year which was second only to United States. Now through this landmark bill, the numbers of plastic bags have currently declined.
It is amazing to see the drive of the nations listed above and the initiatives they have been taking before North America. I am especially impressed with the African nations who with their meager resources have acted on banning plastics. When I see the drive of such nations, it inspires an individual to act.
What can an individual do?
Refresh your memories of the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) from elementary school. Always remember to reduce your plastic contents or to at least reuse the bottles and bags. Also, do not be shy to recycle. Not every location has helpful item labels for sorting materials on recycling bins. But your locality or municipality will always have a website to guide you in that process. Also remember to vote for the right politicians who care about the environment. Your vote matters and elected politicians are sworn into office through the people.
Always remember your voice, vote and effort matters. The Earth is our home and our care for it matters.
Happy 3Rs !