New study finds an increasing global effort to tackle plastic pollution

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A new report from UN Environment has found that there is an increasing global effort to address plastic pollution, with growing actions to eliminate single-use plastics. 

UN Environment has gathered assessments of the various measures and regulations to tackle plastic pollution in its report Single-use Plastics: A roadmap for Sustainability. 

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This global outlook was developed in cooperation with the Indian Government and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and presents case studies from over 60 countries. 

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The report examines the plastics economy and offers suggestions on how to rethink how the world produces, uses and manages single-use plastics.  

Recommendations include: 

  • Specific actions that policy makers can take to improve waste management 
  • Promote friendly alternatives 
  • Educate consumers 
  • Enable voluntary reduction strategies 
  • Successfully implement bans or levies on the use and sale of single-use plastics. 

UN Environment head Erik Solheim said: “The assessment shows that action can be painless and profitable – with huge gains for people and the planet that help avert the costly downstream costs of pollution. Plastic isn’t the problem. It’s what we do with it.”

Key findings in the report included that one of the most effective actions to limit the overuse of disposable plastic items is when governments plan and enforce levies and bans.  

However, it added that there is a need for broader cooperation from businesses and private sector stakeholders offering a roadmap for upstream solutions, including extended producer responsibility and the adoption of a more circular economy approach to plastics.  

While the study has recognised that single-use plastic waste differs across regions, the authors of the report has outlined 10 universal steps for policymakers to tackle the issue in their communities.  

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