China's move to rid the nation of its plastic waste problem took a further step earlier this week when it announced it was banning single-use plastics and restricting the sale of others.
The initiative is being rolled out in three phases which kicks off this year with the banning and restricting of some plastic products. By 2022 China hopes the consumption of disposable plastic products will be greatly reduced and that alternative products will have replaced them. By 2025 single-use plastics will mostly be a thing of the past in China.
China is banning a lot of single-use plastics
In terms of restrictions, China is prohibiting the production and sale of ultra-thin plastic shopping bags, ultra-thin polyethylene agricultural film, plastic products based on medical waste, and the import of waste plastics altogether.
It's also prohibiting the production and sale of a slew of other products including plastic tableware, plastic swabs, daily chemical products containing plastic microbeads, non-degradable plastic bags, disposable plastic products, and express plastic packaging.
"Plastic is widely used in production and life and is an important basic material. Irregular production, use of plastic products, and recycling of plastic waste will cause waste of energy resources and environmental pollution, and increase pressure on resources and the environment," wrote the government in its new plan. "Actively responding to plastic pollution is related to the health of the people and the construction of ecological civilization and high-quality development in China."
Industries have to comply
The government is calling on the use of alternative products to be promoted in shopping malls, supermarkets, drug stores, bookstores, and other places. Companies are also expected to strengthen their corporate green management and industries are expected to apply green initiatives to their businesses.
Businesses have to meet the standards at different times during the five-year plan with hotels required to comply by 2025 but restaurants required to stop using single-use straws this year.
As it stands today, China is the biggest producer of plastics, producing 30% of all plastic products made in the world. The North American Free Trade Area is the second largest, accounting for 19% while Europe is in third place, with 18% of the world's plastics coming from there, reported ScienceAlert.