In the western British City of Bath earlier this month, several shoppers at a local Tesco supermarket chain tore plastic wrappings off food products and left them in shopping trolleys near the cashier, calling for a plastic ban.
The shoppers were participating in what is called a “plastic attack,” which is a common means of protesting the over-usage of plastic in packaging of produce and other food products. Bath is one of many cities that are part of a worldwide movement working towards effectively reducing the consumption of plastic.
But Bath is hardly the only city working to reduce plastic waste. Other cities have been sifting through their trash in search of ways to make the most effective use of their plastic waste.
Here are five cities that are working to cut down on plastic waste.
1. Nairobi, Kenya
In August of last year, the Kenyan capital Nairobi passed a strict ban against plastic bags that forbids producing, selling, and even using plastic bags, slamming violators with up to four years in prison or fines of up to $40,000.
The plastic ban is especially relevant to Kenya because, since 1930, the country has depended heavily on the production of plastic. Today, there are as many as 30 producers of plastic in Kenya that contribute as much as $77.3 million in investments. The plastic ban, which was finally passed in August 2017, took three years in the making.
2. Boston, U.S.A.
Just before the end of the 2017, the City of Boston unanimously passed a bill that will require shoppers to purchase plastic bags for a symbolic 5 cents to encourage Bostonians to reduce their consumption of plastic. For the Eastern U.S. city, the bill is stemmed in Boston’s frustration with the impact that plastic continues to have on nature and marine ecosystems as a result of misuse and overuse of plastic.
Until the bill comes into effect on December 15th, 2018, city government is working to launch a website explaining the intricacies of the bill in an effort to make the plastic ban easier for Bostonians to align with.
3. British cities (other than Bath)
British cities hopped on the anti-plastic bandwagon when British PM, Theresa May, rung in the New Year with a speech in which she vowed to work to eliminate as much plastic-waste as possible. May has vowed to clean up more plastic waste across the Kingdom than in the past 25 years.
Today, the amount of plastic waste that the United Kingdom consumes every year can fill up a thousand Royal Albert Halls, one of which can hold up to 12,000 people. Environmentalists like Craig Bennett, head of Friends of the Earth, welcomed May’s speech, but still thinks it may just be an empty promise. “We need a clear timetable of short-term delivery of schemes, not just woolly promises of doing something good in the future,” Bennett said.
4. New Delhi, India
The Indian capital New Delhi has also introduced legislation that aims to reduce the amount of plastic consumed in the city. India’s National Green Tribunal announced in late January of 2017 plans to ban all kinds of disposable plastic bags.
For New Delhi, plastic plays an integral role in electrical production in the city, which helps explain the existence of Delhi’s three main dumping sites. And while the city needs plastic to produce electricity, the emissions released as a result of the burning of plastic has only made pollution in the city worse. (Air quality in New Delhi was so bad that residents were advised to stay indoors, with some even opting to flee the city out of fear for their health).
South of the capital in Kerala, the Indian government is paying citizens in exchange for plastic waste that will be used to pave roads. In comparison to traditional road paving mixtures, plastic-based mixtures are proven to have higher absorptive and strength capacities.
5. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Most recent to join in on the move to ban plastic is Amsterdam, which became home to the world’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle earlier this year. EkoPlaza, a Dutch supermarket chain, opened the plastic-free aisle as part of a campaign that was put together by the collective A Plastic Planet. Customers can choose from more than 700 plastic-free products on the aisle including meat, rice, sauces, dairy, chocolate, cereals, yogurt, snacks, fresh fruit, and vegetables.
A Plastic Planet vowed that the products will not be more expensive, since plastic is significantly cheaper to use in packaging than the bio-degradable materials that are being used in EkoPlaza. The plastic-free aisle is also being used to test a number of new compostable materials and other more traditional materials like glass, metal, and cardboard.