Single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, wraps, and utensils used in food outlets and courier packages, have been identified by the United Nations as one of the biggest global environmental challenges. Humongous amounts of it are going untreated and buried in landfills or even dumped in rivers.
China has decided to do something about it in their nation. The country’s state planner said on Sunday that it will increase its restrictions on single-use plastics production, its sales and its use in order to concentrate on eliminating one of China’s biggest environmental problems.
A new policy has been issued by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and in conjunction with the National Development and Reform Commission, says that all plastic bags will be banned in China’s most populated cities by the end of this year and will be banned in every city or town in 2022. However, businesses selling fresh produce will not be subject to the ban until 2025.
Other single-use plastic items such as plastic courier packages and plastic utensils used at take-out food businesses will also be included in the phase out.
Another item that the restaurant industry will not be able to use any more which will be banned by the end of 2020 will be single-use straws.
The use of all single-plastic items in all restaurants and food service businesses must be reduced by 30% in every town and city in China by 2025.
Specific sectors and regions in the country will have restrictions imposed on them as far as the production and sale of all plastic products, but which geographical areas will be affected is not clear at this time.
Another restriction China has imposed as far as the production of plastic products, is prohibiting the import of all plastic waste and the use of medical plastic waste.
Plastic bags that are less than 0.0225mm thick and plastic film less than 0.01mm in thickness used in agriculture will be prohibited from being produced and sold.
China is also increasing the rates for recycling plastics. The Beijing government is also in the process of building many recycling plants, referred to as ‘comprehensive resource utilization’ centers in order to make sure that more and more plastic products are reused as part of its battle to eliminate plastic waste.
China is working hard to improve the environment and reduce its contribution to the world’s fossil fuel footprint.