Plastic pollution continues to hit the headlines across the UK, but there are some countries that have banned plastic.
Taking a strong stance on plastic pollution is what many environmental campaigners are asking from the UK government.
Sian Sutherland, the founder of A Plastic Planet, believes we need to look beyond recycling and re-using and turn off the plastic tap. Speaking at the Plastic Free Land launch in September, Sian said, “This is not a shopper problem. This is not a waste problem. It’s definitely not a litter problem. This is a production problem.”
There has been much criticism of brands in the media excessively using plastic packaging. From Amazon to Tesco supermarkets, consumers are outing retailers across social media. Many people are trying to reduce their plastic consumption but feel they continually receive an avalanche of unnecessary plastic.
Banning plastic is something that may seem extreme, but there are countries around the world who have taken serious action.
In 2002 Bangladesh experienced devastating floods after plastic bags had blocked their water system.
Polythene bags had already been reported as an issue in 1998, as it was estimated that up to 80% of the city’s waterlogging was caused by plastic bags.
The country imposed a ban on plastic bags after this disaster, making them the first country to ban plastic.
Fines and sentences in Bangladesh are strict relating to plastic.
For the production, import or marketing of plastic bags, there is a maximum ten-year prison sentence or a one million taka fine.
For the sale, exhibition or distribution of plastic bags, there is a six-month prison sentence or a ten thousand taka fine.
In 2017 the Kenyan Government banned plastic bags in the country. The ban was due to the significant rise in the amount of plastic found in cattle and livestock.
A study by the National Environmental Agency found more than 50% of cattle near urban areas were found to have plastic in their stomachs.
Since the ban, 18 people have pleaded guilty in relation to crimes against plastic pollution. These people received a fine of $300 or are now in prison serving an eight month sentence for using plastic bags.
The toughest ban in Kenya so far is a one-year prison sentence for a man manufacturing plastic bags in the country.
In July 2019 Panama became the first Central American nation to ban plastic bags.
Supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers in Panama must now stop using traditional polythene plastic bags, or incur a fine. For large wholesale stores, they will have until 2020 to remove plastic bags.
Across Panama, there are signs supporting the move with the slogans, “less bags, more life.”
As one of the most biodiverse regions of the world, birds, turtles and seals are often found entangled in plastic bags along Panama’s coast. It is now common to see plastic waste littering the beaches.
The ban on plastic bags is just the beginning for Panama. Any business in Panama found in violation of the new law will face a fine, and the money will go towards improving recycling systems.
While these countries have banned plastic many more are looking to take similar action. According to a UN report, 127 countries have now implemented some type of policy regulating plastic bags.