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Australia plans to phase out single-use plastic by 20254 min read

April 22, 2021 3 min read


Australia plans to phase out single-use plastic by 20254 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Australia is taking a stand against plastic, and quick. The nation has decided that to phase out single-use plastic, which includes items such as plastic cutlery and straws, by the end of 2025.

Credit: Business Today

This important decision was made at a meeting of environment ministers. They decided the phase-out would cover eight types of plastic waste: lightweight plastic bags, plastic misleadingly labelled ‘degradable’, plastic utensils and stirrers, plastic straws, polystyrene food containers, polystyrene consumer goods packaging, and microbeads in personal care products.

Australia produces 2.5m tonnes of plastic waste each year, about 84% of which is sent to landfills, and about 130,000 tonnes of plastic waste leaks into the environment per year, according to a 2019 study by Australia’s University of Newcastle and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). 

“Not only are plastics polluting our oceans and waterways and killing marine life — it’s in all of us, and we can’t escape consuming plastics,” WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini had said.

Owliver’s Obscure Observations

Single-use plastics are defined as ‘a plastic commodity intended to be used once for the same purpose before being disposed of or recycled’.  

While plastic has many valuable uses and makes our lives easier, single-use plastic has become such a big part of every day life that we don’t know how to do without it! This has severe environmental consequences. Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away.

Other nations making efforts too!

This graph illustrates which kinds of plastic we Indians are disposing the most.

In 2019, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government announced that it was aiming to limit the consumption of single-use plastic, and eventually eliminate it by 2022. Around 60 countries have already banned single-use plastic fully or partially in their countries. 

For example, in the US, multiple cities, including San Francisco and Seattle, have banned single-use plastic. Kenya completely banned plastic bags in 2017. Anyone violating the rule could face imprisonment or $40,000 in fine. Joining Kenya is another African country, Rwanda, that has a complete ban on plastic. Zimbabwe also has a ban on styrofoam containers.

In 2016, France banned plastic cups, plates and utensils, before which it had banned plastic bags. The Justin Trudeau-led government in Canada also decided to take necessary measures to reduce plastic pollution. Canadians are trying to ban plastic bottles, bags and straws in as early as the end of this year. Taiwan has a ban on plastic bags, straws, utensils and cups, and South Korea banned the usage of plastic bags in major supermarkets.

In 2002, Bangladesh became the first country to ban thinner plastic bags. Morocco had announced a nationwide ban on the production and plastic bags use in 2016.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern banned plastic bags in 2018. The island nation of Antigua and Barbuda also aims to ban single-use plastic in the coming years.

Covid and the plastic problem

Disposable masks are causing a lot of environmental pollution. Re-useable masks are the only way to go.
Credit: International Institute for Sustainable Development

While noise and air pollution came down during the Covid-19 pandemic and multiple lockdowns around the globe, plastic pollution from improperly disposed-of single-use protective gear also seems to be increasing the global plastic pollution problem. This is also causing wildlife deaths, as animals can ingest plastic items or become entangled or trapped in them. According to one estimate, people are throwing away as many as many as 3.4 billion single-use face masks and face shields daily worldwide!

Sources: The Guardian, Business Today, Global Citizen