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President launches campaign to minimise single-use plastics

President Solih appealed for lifestyle changes to protect the environment.



Single-use plastics have been banned at the president’s office as a campaign was launched Sunday morning to minimise their use across government offices.

With more than 280,000 plastic water bottles used daily in the capital alone, the prevalence of plastic such as bags, bottles and wrappers in the Maldives was “at a worrying level,” President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said at the launching event after presenting glass bottles to staff members.

Plastic makes up a large portion of the 860 metric tonnes of waste dumped into the ocean every day, he observed, stressing the importance of the initiative to preserve and protect the environment.

While the Maldivian economy was dependent on natural resources, “the increase in dumped garbage is the biggest damage done to the sea and life in the sea.”

Appealing for life-style changes, the president urged other government offices to reduce single-use plastics within the first 100 days of the new administration.

Reducing single-use plastic was the focus of this year’s World Environment Day in June. A pilot project to keep 900 dustbins in Malé’s roads was launched by the previous administration.

According to the UN, 104 million non-biodegradable plastic bags were imported to the Maldives last year whilst waste generation in Malé alone increased by 155 percent over the last decade.

More than eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the ocean annually, which is toxic when ingested by plankton, fish and other marine animals. Reefs are at risk as corals consume microplastics and are unable to expel the tiny fragments.

Single-use plastics have previously been banned in some offices and all school premises. Some cafés and restaurants in the capital have also stopped using straws and plastic bottles.

Parley for the Oceans, a US-based organisation, is working with resorts, schools and fishing vessels to intercept plastic, which is then shipped abroad for recycling. It is making design-wear from plastic waste.

While appeals to reduce plastic consumption and waste were made on World Environment Day, local NGOs condemned the hypocrisy of “creating and expanding a culture of bottled water consumption.”

A new water bottling plant that will produce 10,000 plastic bottles every hour is being set up in Kulhudhuffushi.