The Maldives has formalized the legal pathway to steadily phase out single-use plastics.

Yesterday, President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ratified the 18th amendment to the Export-Import Act. The amendment was approved by the People's Majlis on December 7th, 2020.

Under the newly ratified amendment, the President is granted authority to compile and publicise a list of goods classified as single-use plastics, and to add or remove items from the list. Import of such declared goods shall then be prohibited under section 7 of the Export-Import act.

A temporary list of banned single-use plastics, including the date from which changes will come into effect, must be compiled and publicised by the Government of Maldives before January 1st, 2021.

This new legal mechanism comes a little over a year after President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced his plans to phase out single-use plastics in the Maldives at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019. In his first ever speech at the UN Headquarters in New York, President Solih expressed concern on the pollution caused by single-use plastic items like water bottles and plastic bags and its affects on the environment and tourism.

"We are seeking to completely phase out our usage of single-use plastic by the year 2023. This will be one of the most far-reaching and ambitious plastics phase-out plans of any nations on Earth," said the President in his announcement to the world in 2019.

And in order to tackle the problem, the President said, the Government will use policies to outrightly ban certain "problematic" plastics, and also set new industry standards and guidelines. These policies will also be designed to ensure minimum disruption to people and business, and make sure alternatives to plastics are readily and cheaply available.