China is stepping up its efforts to reduce the use of single-use plastic, tackling the amount of plastic bags pollution the Asian country contributes to the environment. In particular, the focus is on the banning of plastic bags as well as single-use plastic plates, cutlery, and straws.
On Sunday night, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission published a recent Q&A, which expanded on the “Opinions on Further Strengthening the Control of Plastic Pollution” agenda that the Chinese government intends to deliver. In particular, China is planning to ban non-degradable plastic bags in all major cities by the end of this year, and all cities and towns by 2022. The exception to this will be marketed selling fresh products, which will be exempt until 2025.
The hospitality industry will also have to scale back on its use of plastic. Restaurants will have to stop providing plastic straws by the end of this year, and reduce their use of single-use plastic items by 30 percent. By the year 2025, hotels will no longer offer free single-use plastic items.
China produces about 60 million tons of plastic waste every year, making it the largest plastic polluter as a single country followed by the US with 38 million tons. This means that each US citizen produces almost three times as much plastic pollution as their Chinese counterparts.
China is also one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of plastic, producing one-quarter of annual global production. The government is also planning to stop the production of certain products such as, for example, bags that are less than 0.025 millimeters thick.
The Chinese government has leveled up its environmentally conscious approach to plastic and plastic pollution over the last few years. In particular, the Asian country decided to no longer import plastic and other recyclables from foreign countries in 2018. This forced countries such as the United States to reduce their export of waste to foreign countries, but also led to nations like Malaysia and Thailand importing more plastic and strengthening their recycling markets.