A huge and inspiring decision regarding plastic waste policies recently came from Costa Rica – not only will they be the world’s first country to completely eliminate single-use plastics, but plans are in place to do it as soon as 2021!

The country is taking the plastic waste crisis seriously – and plans to use a multi-prong approach to implement positive changes. The initiative is being led by the Government of Costa Rica, through the Ministries of Health and Environment and Energy, with technical and financial assistance from the United Nations Development Program. It is also supported by local governments, civil society, and a number of private sector groups.

The ambitious plan will involve not only bans on plastic bags or bottles, but also a serious eradication of other plastic products, like lids or coffee stirrers, which are targeted much less often. As a starting point, on World Environment Day 2017, the country launched its national strategy to replace the consumption of single-use plastics with eco-friendly alternatives made out of materials that biodegrade on their own within a six-month period.

According to The Costa Rica News, one-fifth of the 4,000 tons of solid waste produced daily in the country is not collected and recycled, which means that it ends up polluting the Costa Rican landscape.

Phasing-out all single-use plastics isn’t going to be easy. In order for this change to fully happen, all sectors have to commit to eliminating plastic and replacing it with environmentally friendly options. The changes will have to involve, among other things, municipal incentives, new policies and institutional guidelines for suppliers, and investment in strategic initiatives.

Citizens will also have to cooperate for the plans to work out – but the country’s extensive efforts and determination for a better reality is truly inspiring and we hope many, many others follow suit.

While an all-out plastic ban might be far off where you live, you can help reduce the endless amounts of plastic waste in the world by starting with yourself. To learn how to minimize your own use of plastics, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

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