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03 Jul. 2023

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World Plastic Bag Free Day: Why is plastic pollution a global problem?

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World Plastic Bag Free Day: Why is plastic pollution a global problem?

The plastic epidemic is a threat whose consequences will affect all living beings on planet Earth. Find out what the level of plastic pollution is in the world today and how each of us can make a difference

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Today, July 3, the world celebrates World Plastic Bag Free Day. On this day, NGOs and the media draw public attention to the problem of global pollution and urge humanity to give up plastic. 

Here's a look at the level of global plastic pollution in 2023 and what the world and Ukraine in particular are doing to achieve sustainable development.


The problem of plastic pollution


Plastic pollution is a global environmental problem. According to the United Nations, more than 5 trillion bags are used worldwide every year, and only about 3% of them are recycled. Much of this plastic, including plastic bags, ends up in the ocean. 

Forecasts are impressive: in 30 years, there will be more plastic in the seas than fish. And statistics show the scale of plastic use, as 160,000 bags are used every second in the world. 


Global efforts to reduce plastic pollution and carbon emissions have not yet shown the expected results. According to a report by the Minderoo Foundation, 139 million tons of single-use plastic waste were generated in 2021. This is 6 million tons more than in 2019. The additional plastic waste generated in 2021-2022 is almost 1 kilogram more per person and is driven by the demand for flexible packaging.


However, not everything is hopeless. As the UN reported in May this year, global plastic pollution could be reduced by 80% by 2040. We need to start with a few important steps:

● Eliminate inappropriate use of plastic, such as excessive packaging;

● Increase the reuse of plastic;

● Replace plastic with environmentally friendly alternatives.


This is why it is necessary to talk about environmental pollution and emphasize that everyone can make a difference. By taking small and simple steps, humanity can clean up the planet and ensure a quality life for future generations.


How the world is fighting against plastic


Plastic is used in all parts of the world. However, some countries have taken decisive steps to overcome the plastic crisis. Thirty-three countries actually celebrate a day without plastic bags every day, as they ban the circulation and use of certain types of packaging. Australia, Kenya, South Africa, and Taiwan have the strictest rules. 


Developed countries are finding creative ways to reuse plastic. In the Netherlands, a bicycle path was created from recycled plastic, and such a road surface is stronger than conventional ones. It is important that the carbon footprint of such a surface is smaller than that of a standard one. 


Since the main problem of plastic is that it does not break down, scientists are looking for substances that will solve this problem. Microbiologists from Pakistan have studied a special type of fungus that can destroy plastic with special enzymes. Studies have shown that the fungus can decompose plastic directly at landfills.


This year, the state of California announced plans to reduce sales of plastic packaging by 25% by 2032. The EU is not standing aside either. In the summer of 2021, a ban on the sale of single-use plastic goods came into effect: cutlery and utensils, drinking straws, cotton swabs, and stirring sticks.


An interesting fact: the average lifespan of a bag is 12 minutes, and it takes 400 years to decompose. This means that not a single plastic bag in the world has decomposed yet.




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Plastic bag ban in Ukraine


In 2021, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the draft law "On Restricting the Circulation of Plastic Bags in Ukraine", which prohibits the distribution of ultra-thin plastic bags in retail and catering outlets. 

Currently, you cannot get a plastic bag for free in stores. This step reduces the use of single-use plastic, as Ukrainians have stopped buying bags by the dozens. At first, the bags became paid for, and from January 1, 2023, their use was banned even in departments that sell meat, fish and cereals.

It should be added that the ban does not apply to packaging of fresh fish and meat, bulk products, etc. if the bag is the primary packaging. It is also not forbidden to distribute biodegradable bags that are labeled in accordance with European standards.


How to reduce the use of plastic and plastic bags


Every can challenge themselves and become friendly to nature for a while. VisitUkraine offers you several ways to make a positive impact on the environment:

● Use reusable eco-bags for fruits and vegetables;

● sort your garbage. Set up several containers and separate plastic, paper, metal, and organic waste;

● avoid plastic straws and balloons;

● buy drinks in your own glassware;

● buy a reusable water bottle;

● choose natural fabrics, as synthetic materials contain parts of plastic;

● prefer plastic-free or recycled packaging.


Of course, these are not all the tips that will help you get rid of plastic. If you find it difficult to implement all of them, choose one or two ways and start with them. When you see that it's easy to be eco-friendly, you'll want to add the rest of the good habits to your daily routine.


We remind you that the full-scale war caused the biggest problems with waste disposal since Ukraine's independence. Losses due to land contamination reached almost a trillion hryvnias. Read about how the government plans to dispose of the waste generated by the war in our previous article.


Photo: WWF




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