India may have just made the biggest move yet to tackle the planet’s plastic pollution problem.
Earlier this week, at the World Environment Day summit in New Delhi, the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced a plan to eliminate all single-use plastics by 2022. With India’s population of 1.3 billion—the second largest in the world—this plastic ban would be the most ambitious one to date.
The proposal comes just a week after the European Union announced a similar ban. According to a recent report released by the United Nations, more than 50 other nations are also currently working on plastic-reducing efforts.
About 50 percent of all consumer plastics, from straws to cups and cutlery, are single-use, according to the UN Environment. Once discarded, these plastics can take up to 100 years to degrade which means that in this lifestyle, every piece of plastic we’ve ever used is still around. With nearly 13 million tons of plastic leaking into the ocean every year, researchers predict that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
“It is the duty of each one of us, to ensure that the quest for material prosperity does not compromise our environment,” said Modi in a press release. “The choices that we make today, will define our collective future. The choices may not be easy, but through awareness, technology, and a genuine global partnership, I am sure we can make the right choices.”
Modi also announced a commitment to join the UN Environment Clean Seas campaign by creating a national and regional action campaign to combat marine litter. With nearly 4,600 miles of coastline, the 7th longest in Asia, India will also work on a program to measure its total marine plastic footprint.
Want to learn more about your personal plastic footprint? First, learn more about the real problem behind single-use plastics then try these 11 ways you can help keep the oceans cleaner this summer, both at home and on-the-go.