Over 35 countries have banned plastics, including France, US, the U.K. and Bangladesh. Since 2017, Kenya has had the world’s strictest plastic ban: anyone selling, producing or using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000.
Small-scale bans, mostly on plastic bags, have been experimented with in Canada. In 2018, Montreal banned plastic bags that were thinner than 50 microns (about the thickness of a conventional black garbage bag), but the ban was reportedly ignored, with retailers switching over to a thicker kind of plastic bag to get around the bylaws. This year, the city finally tamped down and banned *all* plastic bags. In P.E.I., the Plastic Bag Reduction Act (which prohibits businesses from providing plastic bags to customers) came into effect on July 1, 2019. P.E.I.’s ban has already had a big impact: in the first year of the ban, there were 15-16 million fewer bags in the Island’s waste system. In the west, Tofino and Ucluelet on Vancouver Island banned plastic bags and straws in 2019.


Single-use Plastic Bans in the USA: Localised State and City Action

In the United States of America, individual states and cities on the country’s coast are early adopters of single-use plastic bans, perhaps because they see the impact of plastic waste on their beaches and in their local stretches of ocean.

Seattle, Washington, brought in a ban on plastic straws and utensils in July 2018, requiring businesses to use compostable alternatives and provide recycling facilities. Washington DC followed their lead and banned plastic straws in January 2019. Other cities that have instigated a plastic straws ban include Miami Beach in Florida and Malibu in California.

Bans or taxes on single-use plastic carrier bags are also becoming more widespread in the US, although the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in some temporary relaxation of the rules. As of 2020, California, Oregon, New York State, and Vermont all have plastic bag bans in place. In Hawaii, four county-wide plastic bag restriction rules have resulted in what is essentially a state-wide ban.

The state of Maine has a ban on single-use polystyrene containers; however, their planned plastic bag ban has been delayed until January 2021 as a result of the pandemic. Vermont boasts what National Geographic calls “the most comprehensive plastics ban in the US”, prohibiting the use of single-use plastic carrier bags, plastic stirrers, and cups or food containers made from polystyrene. The ban does not extend to plastic straws though.

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