It’s not just a new year, it’s a new decade – and China, for one, doesn’t plan to end it as a top contributor to the world’s pollution problem. At least, not when it comes to single-use plastic bags.
They plan to include plastic plates, cutlery, and straws in the ban as well.
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The Chinese National Development and Reform Commission detailed the plan, which includes the complete ban of non-degradable plastic bags in every major city in the country, with plans to expand to every city and town by 2022.
They’re providing exceptions to markets selling fresh products until 2025.
The government expects the hospitality industry to get on board by the same year, with restaurants stopping the use of plastic straws and cutlery, as well as reducing their other single-use plastic items by 30%. Hotels will operate under the same expectations.
Currently, China produces around 60 million tons of plastic waste every year, far and away the largest plastic polluter in the world. The U.S. is next on the list, throwing out 38 million tons of plastic per year – which, in case you’re not into math, means each person in the States creates almost 3x as much plastic pollution as each person in China.
China is also one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of plastics, and plans to expand its environmentally conscious approach to that area, as well: they’ve decided to no longer produce products that are less than 0.025mm thick. In a less environmental move, China no longer imports plastic recyclables from other countries, which has made it very difficult for recycling to maintain its cost efficiency in the United States.
Let’s be honest – the average person doesn’t need to use plastic bags at the grocery store or get a straw and plastic silverware every time they order takeout. There are simple workarounds that people choose not to use because they’re lazy and plastic is convenient.
If this proves anything, it’s that the government is going to have to step in – because regular people aren’t going to voluntarily make their own lives slightly harder, even for the good of the planet.
At least, not in high enough numbers to really make a difference.