|June 06, 2018|
India will abolish all single-use plastic by 2022, vows Narendra Modi
|India will eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has announced.|
The pledge is the most ambitious yet of the global actions to combat plastic pollution that are taking place in 60 nations around the world. Modi's move aims to drastically stem the flow of plastic from the 1.3 billion people living in the fastest growing economy in the world.
"The choices that we make today will define our collective future," said Modi on Tuesday. "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."
A UN report issued on Tuesday -- World Environment day -- showed dozens of nations acting to cut plastic , including a ban on plastic bags in Kenya, on styrofoam in Sri Lanka and the use of biodegradable bags in China.
A tax on single-use plastic bags in the UK has slashed their use, and ministers have banned microbeads in personal hygiene products. But the prime minister, Theresa May's, pledge to end "avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042" was criticised as far too slow.
Millions of tonnes of plastic enter the seas each year, choking whales and other creatures, much of it in Asia. Plastic pollution has been found across the globe, from the most remote oceanic islands to high Swiss peaks. Microplastics have now also been found in tap water and human food around the world, with unknown implications for health.
Writing in the Guardian on Tuesday, Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, said: "Let there be no doubt: we are on edge of a plastic calamity." But he praised India's initiative: "They have shown that political motivation, turned into practical action, can inspire the world and ignite real change."
India, which has 7,500km of coastline, also announced a national marine litter action campaign and a programme to measure how much plastic enters India's coastal waters. The nation will also pledge to make 100 national monuments litter-free, including the Taj Mahal.
"Environmental degradation hurts the poor and vulnerable the most," Modi said. "It is the duty of each one of us to ensure that material prosperity does not compromise our environment."
In 2014, Modi pledged to bring electricity to the almost 20,000 that still lacked power by 2019. On 28 April, he claimed this had been achieved.