Government Announces Ban on Single-Use Plastics to Combat Pollution in the Asia-Pacific Region

The 5th Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities in the Asia Pacific convened today at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, where Environment Minister Hon Naseer Ahamed made a significant announcement. In a move aimed at addressing the escalating issue of plastic pollution, the government has issued a Gazette notification imposing a ban on various types of single-use plastics, effective from October 1.

Minister Ahamed emphasised the urgency of this measure, stating, “Our government has taken the bold step of Gazetting the ban on various single-use plastics. In the next 2 years, we hope to completely control and cut down the circulation of these planet-threatening materials.”

This crucial decision aligns with the broader objectives of the 5th Asia Pacific Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities, a platform for governments, intergovernmental organizations, and stakeholders to discuss and prioritize environmental issues in the Asia Pacific region. Minister Ahamed highlighted that the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region produced over half of the world’s plastics in 2021, making it a significant contributor to global plastic pollution.

Furthermore, Minister Ahamed stressed the need for regional consultations in preparation for the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, in November. This session aims to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, encompassing its full life cycle, from production and design to disposal.

“The draft will be negotiated in the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee scheduled in Nairobi, Kenya, in November,” Minister Ahamed stated,
referring to the zero-draft text of the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, released by the INC Chair.

Minister Ahamed also drew attention to the global impact of plastic pollution on the environment and human health, stating, “Plastics are polluting our planet and choking our ocean, harming human health. Plastics, including microplastics, are now found everywhere in our natural environment.”

The Minister’s announcement reflects a historic resolution adopted at the resumed fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) last year, which called for the development of an international legally binding instrument to comprehensively address plastic pollution, especially in marine environments.

In addition to Minister Ahamed, the event featured addresses from Dechen Tsering, UNEP Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific, who discussed the forum’s agenda, and Anil Jasinghe, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment of Sri Lanka, who highlighted the significance of formulating national environmental policies and conservation measures.

The government’s resolute stance on curbing single-use plastics marks a significant step toward safeguarding the environment and advancing the Asia-Pacific region’s role in transitioning to a circular economy for plastic packaging.

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