Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi announced an ambitious pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022.
The initiative seeks to cut plastic pollution flowing from India’s population of 1.3 billion in the world’s fastest growing economy, the Guardian reports.
“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.”
In honor of World Environment Day, the U.N. issued a report detailing the efforts of countries around the world to combat plastic pollution, such as Sri Lanka’s ban on styrofoam and Kenya’s ban on plastic bags.
Every year, over 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean, and by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, one study has found. Microplastics have been found to contaminate bottle water and are small enough to enter the food chain. Last week, a pilot whale died in Thailand after consuming over 80 plastic bags from the ocean.
“Let there be no doubt: we are on edge of a plastic calamity,” Erik Solheim, head of U.N. Environment, told the Guardian. But praised India’s efforts. “They have shown that political motivation, turned into practical action, can inspire the world and ignite real change.”
Earlier this year, the United Kingdom announced a similar pledge to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042.
India has also unveiled a campaign to tackle plastic pollution along its 4,660 miles of coastline and will seek to make 100 national monuments litter-free, the Guardian reports.
“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.”