India consumes about 14 million tons of plastic every year – out of which a staggering 70 percent is simply discarded, as most of the country’s cities lack an organized system for waste management. As a result, the world’s largest democracy is home to vast trash mountains that loom over the outskirts of major cities, and huge quantities of plastic end up in the water by way of the Ganges.

In a step to combat the dramatic amount of pollution, the country will soon impose a nationwide ban on plastic bags, cups and straw. Thus far, it’s the most sweeping measure yet to stamp out single-use plastics from cities and villages that rank among the world’s most polluted.

Penalties for violations of the ban will probably take effect after an initial six-month period to allow people time to adopt alternatives. The federal government also plans tougher environmental standards for plastic products and will insist on the use of recyclable plastic only.