In an article published on December 6, 2018, the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme announced the release of a report on national laws and regulation of single-use plastics and microplastics worldwide. The report “provides an overview of policy instruments and progress from countries regulating the manufacture, sale, use and disposal of single-use plastics.” It offers a “new insight on the global movement to curb single-use plastics” and “reveals widespread momentum for policy action, with often disparate environmental impacts.” The report was launched at the “second meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics” that took place in Geneva, Switzerland, on December 3-6, 2018.

The report’s authors inform that “plastic bags, disposable single use plastic items, and microbeads are three important sources of plastic pollution.” They confirm a “surging momentum for plastic bag bans” (some form of legislation to regulate plastic bags has been established “in 66% of countries worldwide”). At the same time, “other harmful single-use products, such as microbeads remain largely overlooked” (microbead bans currently established in 8 out of 192 countries assessed, or 4%).

Generally, a “wide range” of regulatory measures is now being used worldwide, including “bans, market and trade-based mechanisms and voluntary measures.” However, the approaches “vary by region, countries and type of plastic product.” Overall, there are still “major gaps in the ways plastic is regulated by different countries,” as Celine Salcedo-La Viña, research associate at the World Resources Institute and one of the study’s authors, summarized.

Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of UN Environment, said that “the massive momentum we have built this year in our global fight against single-use plastic, must now be complimented by policies and actions that lead us in the right direction.” UN Environment calls on “governments, the private sector and civil society to identify and promote effective solutions to regulation and limiting plastic pollution.”

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UN Environment (December 6, 2018). “Regulatory landscape for single-use plastics shows widespread momentum with mixed results.

UN Environment (2018). “Second meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics.

Eillie Anzilotti (December 6, 2018). “127 countries are now working to ban single-use plastic.Fast Company


UN Environment (2018). “Legal limits on single-use plastics and microplastics: A global review of national laws and regulations.