Beat Plastic Pollution is the theme of the 2018 World Environment Day and India as the host of this year’s event used the opportunity to announce a momentous initiative, to ban all single-use plastics by 2022. Home to 1.3 billion people with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India’s decision is a “game-changer” setting a great example and high standard, especially for other Asian countries.
Ban all single-use plastics announces Prime Minister
“The choices that we make today will define our collective future,” said India’s prime Minister Modi. “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.
India along with China, Indonesia and several other Asian countries, have been condemned for greatly contributing to the world’s epidemic of plastic pollution. Thailand for example, is considered to be the world’s largest consumer of plastic bags.
A Plastic Calamity!
As Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, said: “Let there be no doubt: we are on edge of a plastic calamity.” However, he was quick to praise India’s announcement. “India has made a phenomenal commitment and displayed clear, decisive and global environmental leadership. This will inspire the world and ignite real change.”
In conjunction with World Environment Day the U.N. released a report detailing the efforts of other countries that are combating plastic pollution, pointing to Kenya’s ban on plastic bags and Sri Lanka’s ban on Styrofoam. Hopefully India’s vow to ban all single-use plastics will spur other countries to consider similar steps.
80 Plastic Bags Kills Whale
A grotesque illustration of the magnitude of plastic pollution in the ocean, occurred when a struggling pilot whale died in southern Thailand, a sad prelude to World Environment Day. An autopsy of the contents of the whale’s stomach revealed that it had died of starvation after consuming over 80 plastic bags. This followed a 33 foot sperm whale dying on a Spanish beach in April, with over 60lbs of plastic garbage in its stomach.
As our article: Could 5 countries solve 50% of the world’s Ocean Plastic Pollution? points out, nearly 80% of the plastic waste that enters our oceans originates from just ten rivers, eight of which are in Asia.
Is the World Finally Paying Attention?
Last year in one of my rants on plastic pollution I lamented that “The Oceans Are Drowning in Plastic – And No One’s Paying Attention.” Just a year later it seems that the world “IS” paying attention. Possibly it is the very magnitude of the problem. Speaking for myself, even though I have seen numerous images and videos of tons of debris washed ashore on beaches, I am still awestruck when I see a river that can no longer flow because it has been dammed with an unimaginable amount of floating plastic waste.
Hopefully we are now witnessing an awakening, a concerted, worldwide effort to curb our dependence on single-use plastics and possibly, just possibly we may be seeing the beginnings of a resolve to curb the plastic addiction harming our world. India’s vow to ban all single-use plastics is good news worth celebrating on World Environment Day.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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