Maldives has been on the move towards being plastic free in order to obtain its sustainability goal. As the country compromises of small low-lying islands, the nation is in immense danger of becoming a victim of climate change. With this, Maldives has been compelled to make some major and necessary changes in order to kickstart the green initiative in the country.
One of the major steps that were taken towards becoming more sustainable was the move towards making the Maldives a plastic-free nation. The biggest step towards making this initiative a success was taken back in 2021 with the Government announced the ban on single-use plastic in the country. However, just like any other major initiative, the ban on single-use plastic was to be carried out in stages. One of the biggest difficulties in such an initiative definitely has to be the fact that the Maldives as a country highly depends on imported goods, which usually come in single-use plastic packages.
The impact of this initiative can be seen now, almost two years later as some of the goods that Maldivians are used to buying in single-use plastic packages now come in glass bottles. Nobody thought that banning single-use plastic packages would be a reality, but today, people purchase imported sweetened nuts in small glass containers.
And now, the Government has started yet another major change that came into effect on the 18th of April 2023. The Government has announced that a MVR 2 fee will be charged for every plastic bag that is given from stores. This change is being brought under the Waste Management Act (WMA) which was effectively brought into action on January 2022 in order to find proper ways to dispose of waste while also encouraging people to produce less waste.
Statistics show that the Maldives has an extremely high level of plastic waste, and the Waste Management Act along with the ban on single-use plastic are some of the major measures being taken towards a more sustainable future where plastic waste is reduced in the Maldives.
However, there are a few cases where the fee is exempted:
- The bags that are given at duty-free stores after a purchase
- Plastic bags that are used for fresh fish
- Dustbin bags that are purchased by Waste Management Company or other entities that I working towards cleaning up waste
The single-use plastic bags fee is going to be collected through MIRA along with other sales taxes. This adds to the burdens and obligations of the retailers who are mostly small and medium enterprises.