On April 6, 2021, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) announced the publication of a legislative guide developed with the World Resources Institute providing four policy and legal approaches that could help countries reduce their plastic waste permanently.

In response to increasing problems arising from plastic waste littering, over 120 countries are reported to have adopted legislation to regulate single-use plastic bags in recent years, such as China (FPF reported), those in the EU (FPF reported), and most recently India (FPF reported). The presented report was developed to assist legislators and policymakers in developing and improving further regulations and legal actions that will help reduce the harmful impacts of these and other single-use plastic products.

The four different types of regulatory approaches presented include (1) imposing single-use plastic bans, (2) implementing tax and economic incentives, (3) setting product standards, certifications, and labeling requirements, as well as (4) introducing extended producer responsibility schemes.

The authors highlight that there is no silver bullet to solving this global issue and that it will require multipronged and complementary governmental regulation at both national and sub-national levels. The report explains that the countries that adopt specific legislation regulating single-use plastics are more likely to achieve their reduction targets.

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UNEP (April 6, 2021). “Tackling Plastic Pollution: Legislative Guide for the Regulation of Single-Use Plastic Products.

Carole Excell (April 6, 2021). “4 Ways to Reduce Plastic Pollution.” World Resources Institute