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Source: Small Island Developing States

6 September 2019: India and Thailand have joined a growing group of countries that have banned single-use plastic as part of an effort to reduce plastic pollution and its impact on the world’s oceans. The UK Government, in partnership with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) announced plans to expand a Girl Scout and Guides badge that encourages young people to join the global movement to reduce plastic pollution and advocate for the health of the world’s oceans.

India will ban six single-use plastic items on 2 October, Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday, as part of a plan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022. Some Indian states have already introduced bans on polythene bags and the Government of India plans to tighten regulations to only allow recyclable plastic. The ban will cover the manufacturing, use and import of single-use plastic bags, cups, small bottles, straws, plates and certain sachets across the country, including among e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Walmart. Eliminating these six items is predicted to reduce India’s plastic consumption, which is currently 14 million tonnes, by 5-10%. Following a six-month initial implementation period, India may introduce penalties to reinforce the ban.

UNDP Thailand launched a national campaign to encourage Thai consumers to reduce the use of single-use plastics at grocery stores, restaurants and cafes across the country. The campaign, ‘No Plastic? Yes, We Can,’ features advertisements on over 300 digital billboards that challenge shoppers to find innovative ways to carry food without using single-use plastic bags or plastic boxes. According to Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Thailand generates two million tonnes of plastic waste annually, with over 50,000 tonnes ending up in the oceans. Thailand committed to tackle single-use plastics at the 2017 UN Oceans Conference, including actions to encourage eco-friendly packaging and plastic substitutes in the retail sector. In addition to the advertisements, the campaign is hosting calls-to actions by celebrity advocates and a national social media campaign that reinforces the message on reducing plastics. UNDP launched the campaign on 23 August in partnership with Plan B Media and Dentsu Thailand, two Thai companies, and plans to run it until November 2019.

The UK Government announced an extension of a global Girl Scout and Guides badge that encourages young people take action to reduce plastic pollution. The UNEP ‘Tide Turners Plastic Challenge Badge’ also encourages young people to become leaders in their communities to encourage others to join the global fight against plastic pollution and its impacts on the world’s oceans. UNEP developed the badge with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the World Organisation of the Scout Movement and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. After engaging more than 30,000 Girl Scouts and Guides in West Africa, UNEP is extending the badge to an additional 15 countries. The UK Government has provided funding for the initiative.

The President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) María Fernanda Espinosa received the ‘Champion of People and Planet Award’ from the Give Me 5 Campaign. The Campaign awards the prize annually to recognize individuals or groups who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and action towards achieving the SDGs. The Campaign recognized the UNGA President for her leadership and efforts on the ‘Play It Out campaign to Beat Plastic Pollution.’ Through the global campaign against plastic pollution, Espinosa and partners increased awareness around the world and eliminated all single-use plastics from the UN Headquarters in New York, the US. Espinosa thanked UN Member States, including Antigua and Barbuda, and Norway, for partnering with the President’s Office on the initiative, as well as the UN Secretary-General, the UN Secretariat and other partners for their engagement in addressing plastic pollution and expressed hope for the continued elimination of single-use plastics across the UN System, including UN Country and Regional Offices. [Ocean Action Hub Story on Thailand] [Climate Action Network Story on India] [UNEP Press Release on Youth] [Video on UNGA President Award] [UNGA President Website] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Plastic Badge]

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News