The fight against single-use plastic has gone global.
India has become the latest nation to announce that it will ban all single-use plastics, setting an unprecedentedly ambitious target when Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that the country will eliminate its use by 2022.
The pledge came on World Environment Day, during which the United Nations released a report in conjunction with India’s announcement on what is being done to tackle the ever-growing mounds of plastic worldwide. Out of all of the 60 nations that have so far said that they will ban single-use plastics, the goal set by India is thought to be the most progressive yet.
“The choices that we make today will define our collective future,” Modi said during the declaration. “The choices may not be easy. But through awareness, technology, and a genuine global partnership, I am sure we can make the right choices.”
“Let us all join together to beat plastic pollution and make this planet a better place to live.”
As one of the most populated countries on Earth, with one of the longest coastlines, the huge volume of plastic produced and used by India is a very serious threat to the rivers and oceans not only in the country itself, but the entire region.
Along with the ban, Modi also said that India will launch a new initiative to monitor exactly how much plastic waste is flowing in the waterways and out to sea, and try and clean up as much marine garbage as possible. This is to be coupled with another pledge, in which India will work to try and make 100 national monuments – including the Taj Mahal – litter-free.
These targets are much more ambitious than many other nations. The UK, for example, has been criticized for aiming to be free of single-use plastics by 2042, with many saying that this action is far too slow to prevent further build-up of plastics in the oceans and across the land. Already, plastics have been found in the deepest parts of the ocean, the remote frozen poles, and even the lofty peaks of the Alps.
The point is, of course, banning plastics and undergoing massive clear up efforts do work. The plastic bag tax in the UK last year has already lead to an 85 percent reduction in their use, while the astonishing beach clean-up undertaken in Mumbai that saw 5,000 tonnes of trash removed has already allowed turtles to return and nest after 20 years of absence. So if we know it works, what's taking so long? Well, nothing according to India, so here's hoping others will follow.