News World Ban plastic bags? UN seeks to cut pollution as recycling falls short

Ban plastic bags? UN seeks to cut pollution as recycling falls short

Less than a 10th of all the plastic ever made has been recycled, and governments should consider banning or taxing single-use bags or food containers to stem a tide of pollution, a U.N. report said on Tuesday, U.N. World Environment Day.

The study, billed as the most comprehensive review of government action to curb single-use plastics, said up to 5 trillion plastic bags were used worldwide each year. Spread out side-by-side, they would cover an area twice the size of France.

“The scourge of plastic has reached every corner of the Earth,” Erik Solheim, head of U.N. Environment, wrote in the report, compiled with the Indian government and launched along with a slogan: “If you can’t reuse it, refuse it.”

“Only 9 percent of the 9 billion tonnes of plastic the world has ever produced has been recycled,” the report said. “Most ends up in landfills, dumps or in the environment.”

China is the biggest source of plastic packaging waste, ahead of the European Union and the United States. Per capita, however, the United States produces most, ahead of Japan and the EU.

But there are signs of action to limit plastic pollution, which harms life in the oceans, contaminates soils and releases toxic chemicals when burnt.

“Targeted levies and bans – where properly planned and enforced – have been among the most effective strategies to limit overuse of disposable plastic products,” the report said.

Elisa Tonda, who leads U.N. Environment’s Sustainable Lifestyle programme, said more than 60 countries had bans or charges on single-use plastics such as bags or polystyrene containers.

Thirty percent of countries found sharp drops in plastic bag consumption in the first year after imposing restrictions, while 20 percent saw little or no change. But in half the cases, governments failed to gauge the effects of restrictions, the report said.

Among its recommendations, the report called for better sorting of waste and recycling, economic incentives to promote eco-friendly alternatives to plastics, education of consumers and promotion of reusable products.

The report also found other cultural side-effects.

In South Africa, plastic litter is jokingly referred to as “the new national flower”. In Ireland, windblown plastic bags caught in trees are referred to as “witch’s knickers”.

Top Stories

11 new Covid cases in Cyprus, number steadily down, tests rising

  11 new cases of Covid-19 were announced today in Cyprus, out of a total of 3,314 diagnostic tests, taking the total number to 1233. New...

Police fire tear gas at Beirut protesters furious after explosion

  Lebanese riot police fired tear gas at demonstrators trying to break through a barrier to get to the parliament building in Beirut during a...

82 year old killed in Paphos while trying to move his car off the pavement-victim named

  An 82 year old man was killed this morning in Paphos, as he was trying to move his car away from a pavement near...

Paphos fire has scorched 5 square kilometres, still raging, destruction ‘biblical’ (update)

  A fire that broke out early this morning near the Paphos community of Archimandrita and spread on a 20 kilometre front near the villages...

Brazil COVID-19 deaths reach 100,000 and barrel onward

  Brazil’s death toll from COVID-19 is expected to hit 100,000 today and continue to climb as most Brazilian cities reopen shops and dining even...

Taste

Octopus ‘Kathisto’ (or Octopus braised in Wine)

Ingredients: 1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil 2 medium onions, chopped fine 1 large octopus, about 2kg (cleaned and kept whole) 3/4 cup dry red wine 1/3 cup...

Homemade lemonade

Ingredients: 1 cup lemon juice 1 cup sugar Method: Thoroughly wash the lemons with soap and warm water. Roll each lemon with the palm of your hand, pressing...

‘Striftaria’ mini cheese pies

Ingredients 1 ½ cup milk 2 tbsps. flour 4 tsps. of butter 3 eggs, slightly beaten + 1 extra with 1 tbs. of milk for spreading 1 pack of...

Mini potato canapes baked on salt

Ingredients Serves: 12 1kg small Cypriot potatoes rock salt, as needed 250g salted butter 300ml full fat cremé frâiche 1 pot cod or salmon roe Method Prep:20min › Cook:35min › Ready in:55min Take...