President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Wednesday declared a list of single-use plastics to be banned for import into the country starting from 1st June 2021.
The president approved the plan proposed to phase out single-use plastics in the Maldives by the year 2023, back in November. It was drafted by a diverse committee of experts, policy makers, and civil society representatives, and is based on rigorous public and stakeholder consultation sessions.
While the government plans to ban import of single-use plastics in phases, the first step of the phase-out plan began with the ratification of the 18th Amendment Bill to the Export-Import Act of Maldives on December 22, which vests the president with the authority to compile and publicise a list of goods classified as SUPs banned from import, and to add or remove items from that list.
The phase-out plan will officially come into effect in June 2020, with the hope to negate the harmful effects of single use plastic on the Maldives’ vulnerable marine environment and on human health.
The items be banned for import from June 2021 include; drinking straws; plates, cutleries and stirrers; Styrofoam lunch boxes; 30x30 cm carrier bags; betel nuts in plastic wrapping; below 250ml coffee cups; cotton wool buds; 50 ml and smaller toiletry bottles; and, below 500ml PET beverage bottles.
Further, importation of carrier bags below 50-micron thickness; 50-200 ml toiletry bottles; and, one-litre PET beverage bottles, will be prohibited after December 2022.
The government also plans to start an Extended Producer Responsibility programme, to increase awareness, while policy measures will also be introduced to strengthen the producer responsibility for single-use plastics and strategic actions will be taken to strengthen the collection and recycling of single-use plastics.
The incumbent administration’ vision to phase out single-use plastics from the Maldives by the year 2023, was initially announced during President Solih’s maiden trip to New York to attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, held last year.
The People’s Majlis passed the 18th amendment to the Export-Import Act at its 28th sitting of the year’s last session, on December 7. The amendment requires the government to compile and publicize the list of banned single-use plastics, including the date from which the changes are to come into effect, before January 1, 2021.
Parliament in mid-2019 passed a resolution to ban single-use plastics in Maldives from 2025 onward, after students from a number of schools collectively submitted a proposal that details the dangers of single-use plastic.