UN: Plastic bans can work, but need planning and enforcement

A man collects plastic and other recyclable material from the shores of the Arabian Sea, littered with plastic bags and other garbage, in Mumbai, India, Monday, June 4, 2018. The theme for this year's World Environment Day, marked on June 5, is "Beat Plastic Pollution." (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
In this photo taken June 1, 2018, a ragpicker is silhouetted as he searches for reusable material at a garbage dump in New Delhi, India. India produces more than 68 million tons of trash every day. More than 17,000 tons of it is plastic. That requires immense dumps, which in cities like New Delhi, mean hills of stinking trash up to 50 meters tall. Last year, two people were killed when a large part of one of the city’s dumps crashed down onto them. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
An Indian rag picker collects plastic bags at an industrial area on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The U.N. says government bans on plastic can be effective in cutting back on waste but poor planning and follow-through have left many such bans ineffective. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
An Indian worker sorts used plastic bottles before sending them to be recycled at an industrial area on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The U.N. says government bans on plastic can be effective in cutting back on waste but poor planning and follow-through have left many such bans ineffective. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
An Indian rag picker sorts plastic bags at an industrial area on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The U.N. says government bans on plastic can be effective in cutting back on waste but poor planning and follow-through have left many such bans ineffective. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
In this photo taken June 1, 2018, sacks filled with reusable trash are lying around the houses of garbage collectors near a garbage dump in New Delhi, India. India will host U.N. World Environment Day on June 5. This year’s theme is “Beat Plastic Pollution.” (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Nepalese workers segregate plastic waste for recycling at a junkyard in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, June 4, 2018. The theme for this year's World Environment Day, marked on June 5, is "Beat Plastic Pollution." (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
A Kashmiri woman rows her boat past another loaded with plastic bottles and other waste collected from the Dal Lake as a cleanliness initiative on World Environment Day in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. "Plastic pollution is a huge issue everywhere," U.N. Environment chief Erik Solheim told The Associated Press in an interview. He praised India for its growing focus on environmental protection but also noted that while traveling in the country he'd seen "some of the most beautiful scenic places, but destroyed by plastic pollution." (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
A young boy collects plastic and other recyclable material from the polluted waters of Babdemb lake on World Environment Day in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. "Plastic pollution is a huge issue everywhere," U.N. Environment chief Erik Solheim told The Associated Press in an interview. He praised India for its growing focus on environmental protection but also noted that while traveling in the country he'd seen "some of the most beautiful scenic places, but destroyed by plastic pollution." (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
An Indian worker sorts used plastic bottles before sending them to be recycled, at a railway station on World Environment Day in Ahmadabad, India, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The U.N. says government bans on plastic can be effective in cutting back on waste but poor planning and follow-through have left many such bans ineffective. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
People walk on the garbage littered shores of the Arabian Sea in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The U.N. says government bans on plastic can be effective in cutting back on waste but poor planning and follow-through have left many such bans ineffective.(AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
Volunteers clean the banks of Yamuna, India's sacred river that flows through New Delhi, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. World Environment Day is observed during June 5. This year the theme is "Beat Plastic Pollution". (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Volunteers clean the banks of Yamuna, India's sacred river that flows through New Delhi, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. World Environment Day is observed during June 5. This year the theme is "Beat Plastic Pollution". (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Bangladeshis work at a plastic strips storehouse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monday, June 4, 2018. The theme for this year's World Environment Day, marked on June 5, is "Beat Plastic Pollution." (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)
A Sri Lankan ragpicker searches for plastic waste washed ashore on the promenade of the Indian ocean in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, June 4, 2018. This year's World Environment Day theme, marked on June 5, is "Beat Plastic Pollution." (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Bangladeshi workers sort through plastic bottles for recycling in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The U.N. says government bans on plastic can be effective in cutting back on waste but poor planning and follow-through have left many such bans ineffective. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)
Volunteers clean the banks of Yamuna, India's sacred river that flows through New Delhi, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. World Environment Day is observed during June 5. This year the theme is "Beat Plastic Pollution". (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Bangladeshi women work at a plastic bottles recycling factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The U.N. says government bans on plastic can be effective in cutting back on waste but poor planning and follow-through have left many such bans ineffective. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

NEW DELHI — Government bans on plastic can be effective in cutting back on waste, but poor follow-through has left many such bans ineffective, the U.N. said in a report Tuesday.

The report, with its release timed for U.N. World Environment Day, noted that rules limiting the use of plastic bags had decreased their use in places such as Morocco, Rwanda and parts of China, sometimes significantly. But elsewhere things haven't gone so well.

A ban on disposable plastics in New Delhi, for instance, has had only limited impact "because of poor enforcement," the report said.

New Delhi has tried repeatedly over the past decade to ban the use of thin plastic bags, most recently announcing a heavy fine for rule-breakers. But the bags remain ubiquitous across the city, blowing in the wind, piled in ditches and readily offered in hundreds of thousands of shops. Elsewhere in India, including the states of Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh, there have been better results. India is hosting this year's World Environment Day.

"Plastic pollution is a huge issue everywhere," U.N. Environment chief Erik Solheim told The Associated Press in an interview. He praised India for its growing focus on environmental protection but also noted that while traveling in the country he'd seen "some of the most beautiful scenic places, but destroyed by plastic pollution."

"So the problem is big, but the ability to change is also big," Solheim said.

The U.N. made a series of recommendations to make plastics bans more effective, from encouraging more cooperation from businesses to offering incentives.

The report notes that by some estimates, as many as 5 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year.

In drought-prone Cyprus, the president said Tuesday that he wants his country to play a coordinating role in the efforts of nations in the Mediterranean and Middle East to deal with climate change.

After chairing a meeting of environmental experts and top government officials on the topic, President Nicos Anastasiades said in a statement that he gave instructions for Cyprus to play a bigger role in a part of the world that's particularly susceptible to climate change.

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