China Intensifies War on Plastic Bags

China is opening new fronts in its campaign against “white pollution”, including an expansion of the existing ban on free plastic bags. From the AFP:

Bookstores and pharmacies nationwide will soon be forbidden to give out free plastic bags, joining the ranks of supermarkets that have had to charge for shopping bags since June 1, 2008, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

On that day, China also banned the production, sale and use of ultra-thin plastic bags [thinner than 0.025mm], becoming one of only a few nations around the world to take such tough measures ….

Around three billion plastic bags were being used daily in China before the 2008 ban. Since then, according to the NDRC, people have used at least 24 billion fewer plastic bags every year, the report said late Saturday.

Dong Jinshi, vice chairman of the International Food Packaging Association in Beijing, told AFP late last year that as many as 100 billion plastic shopping bags may have been kept out of landfills as a result of the law [a reduction of around 9%].

Enforcement and education will complete the triple-pronged attack, according to Xinhua:

Zhao said the government will launch an inspection in major regions where producers of ultra-thin plastic bags converge and eliminate the sources of such bags. Greater efforts will be made to check retailers and crack down on violations, she said.

The government will also launch a campaign in communities, schools and markets to increase people’s knowledge about the policy and their awareness of the danger in using ultra-thin plastic bags, she added.

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