China, one of the world’s biggest plastic users, has come up with a major plan to reduce single-use plastics across the country.
By the end of 2020, non-degradable bags will be banned in major cities and by 2022 in all cities and towns.
The restaurant and catering industry will also ban the use of single-use plastic cutlery in major cities by the end of 2020, while non-degradable plastic straws will be unavailable nationwide. By the end of 2025, hotels will no longer be allowed to provide single-use plastic items.
Nationwide, postal services will not be allowed to use any plastic packaging.
China has been struggling for years to deal with the rubbish generated by its 1.4 billion citizens.
The largest rubbish dump of the country of the size of around 100 football fields already being utilized, and that is 25 years before the schedule.
China collected 215 million tonnes of urban household waste in 2017 alone. However, national figures for recycling are not available.
According to online publication Our World in Data – based at the University of Oxford, China produced 60 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2010, and US 38 million tonnes.
The research, which published in 2018, said the “relative global picture is similar in projections up to 2025.”
The extensive usage of single-use plastic products by humans is having a devastating impact on wildlife. An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic get dumped into the ocean every year. Governments and companies globally are increasingly searching for ways to reduce our collective plastic footprint.
The Change that has Occurred
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) issued the new policy on Sunday to be implemented over the next five years.
Plastic bags will be banned across all cities and towns in 2022. The production, as well as the use of a large number of single-use plastics across the country, would be slowly phased out by the middle of the decade. The commission said cracking down on plastic pollution was crucial for people’s health and “to build a beautiful China.”
The new policy included a timeline in detail outlining which plastics will be banned by a specific time in areas across the country. The changes will take place sooner in major cities, while smaller towns or rural areas will be allowed more time to adjust.
The Chinese government announced to promote the use of degradable or recycled plastic products and create comprehensive recycling programs.
However, the markets that sell fresh produce will remain exempt until 2025.
The production and sale of plastic bags that are less than 0.025mm thick will also be banned.
The restaurant industry must reduce 30% usage of single-use plastic items.
Hotels are instructed not to offer free single-use plastic items by 2025.
It isn’t for the first time that China is campaigning against the use of plastics.
In 2008, the country banned the production of ultra-thin plastic bags while also prohibited retailers from giving out free plastic bags.
China is the largest manufacturer of plastic in the world that produces more than 29% of the world’s plastic products, according to a 2019 joint study by Columbia University and Zhejiang University.
China, which was once the world’s largest importer of plastic waste, announced to ban the import of foreign plastic waste in 2017.
China’s Yangtze River carries more plastic pollution into the ocean compared to any other waterway in the world, according to the World Economic Forum.
In Asia, China is not the only country that has detained single-use plastics.
Earlier this year, Thailand announced to ban single-use plastic bags in major stores, with a total ban across the entire country in 2021.
Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, also is about to ban single-use plastic bags in departmental stores, supermarkets, and traditional markets by June 2020.
The single-use plastic is also banned on the Indonesian island of Bali.
esides, Malaysia returned 150 shipping containers of plastic waste to their origin countries, which were illegally imported.
“[We] will take the necessary steps to ensure that Malaysia does not become the garbage dump of the world,” Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said on Monday.
There were plans to send back further containers shortly, she added.
Since 2018, wealthier countries have been sending plastic waste to Malaysia. However, officials say they are struggling to tackle the amount that is already being imported illegally.