A Day Without Polyethylene: Ukrainians go single-use-plastic-free for a day

Posted July 3, 2019

Photo credit: Roman Baluk / UNDP Ukraine

Kyiv, 3 July 2019 – Plastic pollution badly hurts the environment and human health in Ukraine and across the globe. To attract Ukrainians attention to the plastic pollution problem and its negative impacts, and to celebrate the International Plastic Bag-Free Day, the United Nations Development Programme, together with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, inter-faction union of Parliament Members “Green Power Shift” and Zero Waste Alliance Ukraine are holding a “Day Without Polyethylene” campaign in Ukraine. Over 100 shops, supermarkets, cafes, pharmacies, educational facilities, fast food restaurants and other companies are joining in the initiative to avoid single-use plastic for a day, replacing it with more environmentally-friendly alternatives.

During the Day Without Polyethylene on July 3, over 100 shops, supermarket chains, cafes, restaurants, other Ukrainian retailers and institutions are switching from using plastic bags, gloves, cups and lids, cutlery and packaging to more environmentally-friendly options. Among them are the Auchan and Spar supermarkets, the KIMS dry cleaners, and other service companies such as the YE bookshop network, the Old Lion Publishing House, IT company UniSender, the Eurasia restaurant network, and many more.

Customers will be able to use paper or textile grocery bags instead of plastic ones, use tongs instead of plastic gloves to pick up bread, buns and other baking products, and buy food in reusable containers and beverages in their own reusable mugs ­– often with a discount. Special awareness raising campaigns are being held in Lviv, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Iziaslav (Khmelnytsk Oblast), Chortkiv (Ternopil Oblast), Kharkiv, Askania Nova and other cities. A full list of participating organizations can be found via this link.

The campaign was conducted as part of a UNDP project called “Support to the Parliament of Ukraine on Sustainable Energy and Environment,” which is implemented with financial support from Sweden.

Plastic is a cheap and lightweight material – characteristics that has led to its overproduction. As a result, the global community now faces the problem of masses of plastic waste, only a small part of which is recycled. According to UN Environment statistics, almost 13 million tons of plastic enter the oceans every year, affecting biodiversity, economies and people’s well-being. If no firm action is taken, there could be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.

Eventually, plastic finds its way into our food chain, consumed by livestock and fish. Recent research by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature found that we are already consuming along with our water, air and food, up to 5 grams of plastic every week, 21 grams a month, or 250 grams a year. That’s like eating a credit card in a week, a comb in three weeks, or a clothes hanger in five weeks.

“UNDP supports Ukraine in strengthening its environmental policy, increasing ecological awareness and improving the visibility of sustainable energy and environmental issues among decision-makers and the society,” said UNDP Resident Representative Dafina Gercheva. “With our ‘Day Without Polyethylene’ campaign, we’d like to encourage every Ukrainian to think about the harmful effects that single-use plastic does to the economy, the environment, and the health of every individual. We hope to encourage more people to opt for eco-friendly alternatives. But this is only the first step.  Bringing along your reusable bag or cup is great, but to see a real change, citizens need to create with their own behaviour demand both for sustainable and environment friendly businesses, commerce and trade, and for a much better waste management system.”

"I urge all Ukrainians to support this initiative, because it only seems that the problem with polyethylene ends at the trash bin,” said Ostap Semerak, Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine.  “Scientific research suggests otherwise. Let's show that we’re ready to give up polyethylene – and not only on July 3 Let's not limit ourselves to a day in the calendar but make it a daily habit.”

Today more than 60 countries of the world have introduced measures to cut the use of plastic – principally plastic bags. These practices include voluntary agreements, a total or partial prohibition of sales, an additional financial levy on retailers, and consumer information.

"Members of the Green Power Shift inter-faction association of deputies have registered legislative initiatives aimed at limiting the circulation of polyethylene packages in Ukraine," said Oleksiy Ryabchyn, co-chair of Green Power Shift. "We’ll continue to make every effort to ensure that Ukraine joins the global bloc of countries seeking to make their economy and society free of single-used plastic."

Background information:

The UNDP Project “Support to the Parliament of Ukraine on Sustainable Energy and Environment” aims to provide members of parliament and relevant parliamentary committees with quality analytical support in creating better legislation, organizing consultations and round tables for partners, developing communication products, and engaging various stakeholders in discussions on energy and environmental protection matters. The project is being implemented with the financial support from Sweden.

Media inquiries: Yuliia Samus, UNDP Communications Specialist, yuliia.samus@undp.org, +38 097 139 14 75