India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has made one of the boldest commitments yet to end plastic waste.
Mr Modi announced this week his intention to bring forward policies to remove all single-use plastics in the country within the next four years.
“The choices that we make today will define our collective future,” he said on Tuesday, in a speech to mark World Environment Day.
“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.”
It’s not clear how the Prime Minister intends to enact such a dramatic change of course in such a short period of time. He has started by announcing a clean-up operation at 100 of India’s most historic sites, including the Taj Mahal.
The bold move comes as a new report details for the first time which countries are taking the most action on the problem of plastic pollution. According to the report, released by UN Environment, 60 countries have introduced taxes or levies on the material, something which has proved the most successful in reducing waste.
Some nations, such as Kenya and Rwanda, have gone further with outright bans on plastic bags with steep fines for offenders. Chile also signed off on a law last month to ban the bags, becoming the first Latin America country to do so.
Over half of Indian states have already initiated their own bans on plastic bags. And while India remains the world’s second most-populated country, it lags far behind others for the volume of plastic it throws away. China, for example, sends almost 9 million tons of plastic to the oceans each year, and Indonesia over 3 million. India pollutes with roughly 500,000 tons.
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