© GIZ/Lena Kampe

05.07.2021

Goodbye, single-use plastics!

The ban on single-use plastics across Europe now applies in Germany, too. Some countries are developing their own strategies to reduce plastic waste and protect the environment.

Single-use cutlery, cotton buds, drinking straws and stirrers made of traditional plastic – these types of disposable products have now been consigned to the past thanks to the ban on single-use plastics introduced throughout Europe as of 3 July. Disposable takeaway cups and single-use polystyrene containers are no longer allowed to be produced or put on the market in the EU either. The new rule was adopted in response to the growing global challenge of plastic waste. Every year, more than eight million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the oceans. The region of East and South-East Asia is particularly hard hit by the problem, and marine litter is jeopardising animals and plants, fisheries and the tourism industry. 

With more than 30 years of experience in the waste sector, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is collaborating with international and local partners to address this global challenge. Across the globe, it provides advice and support on topics connected with the circular economy and with reducing waste in the oceans. On behalf of the EU and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is involved in activities such as promoting policy dialogue between Europe and seven countries in East and South-East Asia. It holds workshops, conferences and webinars to discuss topics such as recycling standards for plastic waste and the reduction of single-use plastic packaging for food delivery. 

Pilot projects promote innovative approaches to avoiding plastic waste

As part of these measures, GIZ has been supporting more than 20 pilot projects in five countries since the beginning of 2021 designed to trial new approaches to avoiding and recycling plastic and to disseminate good practices. The projects include an ideas competition for innovative alternatives to single-use plastics for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the Philippines and a project in the Indonesian city Bandung that aims to reduce the use of plastic bags in retail outlets, including traditional markets.

‘Our efforts to encourage local governments and economic actors to reduce the use of plastic bags and other single-use plastics are designed to protect the environment against plastic pollution. This is a specific measure to realise regional waste reduction goals – 30 per cent by 2025 – and of course to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’, explains Rayhang Nusantara, national coordinator of Gerakan Indonesia Diet Kantong Plastik (GIDKP), the Indonesian movement to reduce plastic bags, which is cooperating with GIZ to implement the measure on the ground.

The project in Bandung has already achieved some initial success: in the first four months, hundreds of market stands were involved in surveys on the baseline situation and some of their customers have already been convinced to take reusable bags. In addition, a debate was held on alternative solutions to single-use plastic bags with market traders and suppliers of alternative packaging. After all, if the project is to be successful, it is vital to involve the population and to cooperate with local partners in order to create awareness about avoiding waste.

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