Not only in European and north American countries but also in China, India and African countries are starting initiatives to fight plastic waste.
April 22nd 1970 millions of people started protesting against the impact of two centuries long industrial development on environment and human health. While in the United States and Europe emerged big mass movements in favour of environment’s protection, more and more scientific studies demonstrated that smog provokes dangerous effects on our health, that children’s development delay is caused also by air pollution, that the high use of pesticide and other substances lead to animal and vegetable decay. Environmental consciousness spread worldwide so in July 1962 the US established Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a government agency with regulatory function. In those years Italian people realised that traditional waste-disposal methods (in landfills) polluted soil, water and air so they started paying attention to their waste and increased recycling.
Since developing countries’ strong point is industrial production, they generate the great majority of worldwide pollution and 90% of population’s deaths are linked to it. In the last years European and north American efforts are reaching also China, India and African countries, so that population and government are getting concerned about environmental issues too.
You can find it in landfills, fields, rivers and in the seas. Plastic in China is everywhere. Most of it comes from e-commerce and food delivery companies, which are well-spread in the whole country and that is why it will be hard for both companies and consumers get used to biodegradable and not- single use bags. Even if Chinese people generate less plastic waste per capita than Americans, almost three-quarters of China’s plastic waste ends up in poorly managed landfills or out in the open.
Since 2018 among the new guidelines are bans on the import of plastic waste and the use of nonbiodegradable plastic bags in major cities by the end of this year. Other sources of plastic garbage will be banned in Beijing, Shanghai and wealthy coastal provinces by the end of 2022, and that rule will extend nationwide by late 2025.
By the end of the year, the guidelines say, China will ban disposable foam plastic cutlery. Shops, restaurants and markets in major cities must use biodegradable plastic bags by that deadline, and restaurants and food vendors nationwide will have to stop using straws made from nonbiodegradable plastic.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has announced that India will eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022. She reminds that it is important that material prosperity does not compromise the environment and that poor people are the most vulnerable to environmental decay. Since the country has 7,500 km coastline, the government announced also a national marine litter action campaign and a programme to measure how much plastic enters India’s coastal waters. The nation will also pledge to make 100 national monuments litter-free, including the Taj Mahal.
Due to the higher concern about environment, multinational companies are investing in alternatives to embark on zero plastic challenges. Emerging centres of this movement are in capital cities across Africa, where large-scale campaigns are being mobilized to eliminate plastic, according to the United Nations’ Environment Program (UNEP).
UN Environment and its partners are working closely with African governments to establish policies and create programmes that are geared towards a plastic-free continent. The campaign “Beat Plastic Pollution” has mobilized the continent to come together and clean up plastics in land and water ecosystems. The campaign also encourages governments to adopt the initiative and come up with regulations to reduce plastic pollution.
Some countries like Kenya, Rwanda, and Morocco have flat-out banned single-use plastic bags, forcing businesses and consumers to use alternatives, and countries like Zimbabwe have banned styrofoam. South Africa is encouraging consumers to bring reusable bags when shopping. This is just a step of a multi-year program to become “plastic-free”. In Tanzania, youth activists are turning plastic bags into mattresses, according to UNEP, and in Ghana, an entrepreneur is converting plastic bags into a cheap form of asphalt. Regarding plastic pollution in waters, activists in Egypt are trying to rid the Nile River of plastic and in the Ivory Coast have organized beach clean-ups to tackle ocean pollution and. In this country they are constructing a factory that converts plastic waste into modular bricks (if you are interested on it, read our article https://www.soluzioniplastiche.com/post/recycled-plastic-for-social-purposes).