Narendra Modi: India to Ban Single-Use Plastic by 2022

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CC BY-ND 2.0. Carol Mitchell

As other countries dither, India's Prime Minister makes a bold but important promise.

I confess, I sometimes get cynical about events like World Environment Day, and the relatively empty press releases and superficial announcements that tend to come with them. Today, however, feels different. With a very specific focus on plastics and plastic pollution, there have been a raft of measures announced that are genuinely moving the needle on an urgent topic.

Most, however, pale into insignificance compared to a promise—reported over at The Guardian—made by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi today: India is planning to abolish all single-use plastics by 2022. That's obviously a pretty bold move. And it certainly raises the bar for other countries—like the UK—where single-use plastics bans have been rumored for some time.

To be fair, India has had a major plastic pollution problem for some time. So it's not really a surprise that there's mounting political will to do something about it. Indeed, citizens of Mumbai have made headlines in recent months with their massively ambitious clean up of Versova Beach, which has gone from being an open dumping ground to prime sea turtle nesting habitat in just a few short years.

In addition to the ban on single-use plastics, Modi also announced a marine litter action campaign. a programme to monitor plastics entering coastal waters, as well as a commitment to make 100 national monuments litter-free.

Let's just hope these measures are enforced. After all, the BBC has a story on a new report from the UN—also released today—which documents 50 nations that are taking meaningful action to curb marine plastic pollution. For the glass half full crowd, that's an awful lot of positive efforts. For the more cynical among us, there's a wide disparity in enforcement, which means some initiatives are not living up to their full potential.