Towns and countries taking action to regulate single-use plastic

More and more towns, countries and regions are taking steps to regulate the use of single-use plastic, which makes up around 50% of the world’s plastic production.

Those that have already taken action

In Asia

In 2002, Bangladesh was the first country in the world to ban the thinnest plastic bags after they caused huge floods during torrential rains.

China and Taiwan have similar regulations.

In India, dIn India, many initiatives have emerged to ban single-use plastic bags or disposable plastic cups: in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttarakhand and Karnataka State. Implementation remains difficult, however (37).

In Thailand, in January 2018, the authorities issued a ban on smoking and discarding cigarette butts at 24 out of 357 beaches in the country (54).

In Bombay and Maharashtra State, since March 2018, it has been forbidden to buy and sell disposable plastic, and also to own or use it (57).

In Europe

In France, disposable and non-biodegradable plastic bags have been banned since the beginning of 2017. In 2018, France is banning single-use plastic bags and cosmetics containing plastic microbeads. In 2020, the ban will be extended to plastic tableware (including cups, plates and cutlery) as well as cotton swabs (34).

Great Britain introduced a 5 pence tax on bags at checkouts in October 2015. By July 2016, the number of bags distributed had dropped by 85% (44). On 1 July 2018, the country will also ban plastic microbeads (after banning their sale on 1 January) and the British Department for Environment is currently looking into a deposit system for plastic bottles.

In Italy, plastic bags at store checkouts have been banned since 1 January 2011.

In Belgium, there is a tax on plastic bags and the country plans to ban microbeads in all consumer products by 2019.

Sweden also voted to ban microbeads on 1 January 2018.

Other countries have introduced a tax on in-store plastic bags, such as Ireland, Spain, Austria and Denmark.

In Africa

Many African countries have announced concrete measures to control the amount of single-use plastics in circulation. This is the case of Morocco (with the “Zero mika” campaign in July 2016), Cameroon, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Uganda, Tanzania and Gabon.

In August 2017, Kenya banned the production, sale and use of plastic bags, with fines of up to $40,000 and 4 years in prison (45).

In April 2018, Mauritania banned plastic bags on its territory. Penalties range from a simple fine to imprisonment (58).

Rwanda and South Africa have combated plastic bag use successfully by introducing very tough legislation.

Rodrigues Island, which is the 10th district of the Republic of Mauritius, has banned plastic bags since 2014, as well as straws, plastic cutlery and plastic/polystyrene trays since 2019 (61).

It’s not always easy to enforce these bans on the ground.

In America

In October 2017, Chile passed a law forbidding the sale of plastic bags in 102 coastal towns and villages in order to preserve marine ecosystems (48).

In December 2015,the United States passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act, which aims to eliminate microbeads between July 2017 and July 2019 depending on the products concerned (46).

San Francisco banned plastic checkout bags in 2007.

Quebec and Montreal Metropolitan Community have also begun to impose stricter regulations.

Those that have announced future action


In June 2018, Nigeria announced working on a national policy on plastic waste management to regulate use and disposal of plastic waste in the country. (60).


Scotland has announced that plastic straws will be banned in 2019, which will make it the first European area to take a decision of this magnitude. (55).

New Zealand

New Zealand is banning microbeads from its territory. The rules will come into force in May 2018. (53).

Costa Rica

By 2021, Costa Rica will have banned all single-use plastics: plastic bags, plastic cutlery, straws, etc. (31).

Queensland State, Australia

Queensland State intends to ban single-use plastic bags from July 2018 onwards (33).

Seattle, United States

In 2018, Seattle is banning all single-use straws with the Strawless in Seattle campaign #StrawlessInSeattle. More details here.


Taiwan has stated a wish to start a gradual ban on plastic straws in 2019. This will extend to kitchen utensils from 2020 onwards and single-use plastic in general will be banned in 2030 (56).

Victoria State, Australia

In 17 October 2017, Victoria State stated its intention to ban single-use, light plastic bags. No implementation date has been announced and consultations will be taking place with stakeholders (35).

The Bahamas

By 2020, the Bahamas will have abolished single-use plastic in their territory (59).

Those that have not announced anything

The rest of the world

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