China Gets Tough on Plastic Bags

Officials in China are encouraging a return to traditional baskets instead of plastic bags in markets.© Getty Images

China’s government announced last week that it is banning the production of ultra-thin plastic bags and forbidding supermarkets and shops to give them away beginning in June. According to the State Council, China"s cabinet, the country uses too many of the bags—analysts guess some three billion each day—wasting valuable oil, littering the countryside and polluting waterways.

"Our country consumes huge amounts of plastic bags every year. While providing convenience to consumers, they have also caused serious pollution, and waste of energy and resources, because of excessive use and inadequate recycling," said a notice on the Council"s website. "We should encourage people to return to carrying cloth bags, using baskets for their vegetables."

While the announcement came as a surprise, inspiration may have come from a similar plan hatched late last year to ban free plastic bags in the boomtown of Shenzen in southern China. Other governments around the world—including Ireland, Uganda and South Africa, as well as the city of San Francisco—have experimented with reducing their consumption of plastic bags, but China"s commitment on the issue ups the ante.

Sources: Planet Ark; www.gov.cn

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