Countries around the world are making an effort to combat plastic pollution, according to a new study released by UN Environment on Tuesday.
The study revealed that a “growing number of governments are taking action” in an effort to curb environmental woes. More than 60 countries have already instituted bans and levies to prevent single-use plastics from being used. Countries including Rwanda and Kenya were lauded for their sustainability efforts.
After the study was published, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged people to stop using single-use plastics.
“A healthy planet is essential for a prosperous and peaceful future,” he said, “the message is simple: reject single-use plastic. Refuse what you can’t re-use.”
The study was released on World Environmental Day, which was established 1974 in an effort to “raise awareness and generate political momentum around global environmental concerns,” according to UN News.
Recently, there has been an increase in reports of plastic pollution killing animals and damaging the environment. On Monday, veterinarians discovered that a blue whale passed away after it consumed nearly 8 kilograms of plastic, according to the Thailand Department of Marine Control. Before the whale died, it vomited five plastic bags. The plastic caused dehydration and made it impossible for the marine animal to consume food.
According to Guterres, more than 8-million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year. Guterres said that there are more microplastics — small fragments of plastic — in the ocean than there are stars in the galaxy. More than 600 marine species are harmed by plastic waste, according to the study.
Africa has the largest number of countries with a total ban on the production and use of plastic bags, according to the study. More than half of Africa’s 55 recognised territories implemented restrictions on national bags from 2014 to 2017. In 2003, South Africa implemented a national levy on plastic bags, but the law is not properly enforced.
Because plastics are not biodegradable, they can take thousands of years to decompose. The most commonly used single-use plastics are cigarette butts, plastic drinking bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers and plastic grocery bags.
Guterres believes that worldwide collaboration will help to create a more suitable environment for all living species.
“Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world,” he said.