The Chinese government recently announced a sweeping anti-plastics campaign. Starting with a ban on plastic bags in the country’s major cities at the end of 2020, single-use plastic will be phased out over a longer period of time.
The plan, which was put forth by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, will ban single-use plastic bags in smaller cities and towns by 2022 and in markets where fresh fruits and vegetables are sold by 2025. It will also ban single-use plastic straws in restaurants by the end of 2020, reduce the use of single use plastics by 30 percent at restaurants and ban hotels from handing out free plastic things by 2025. It also bans the production and sale of single-use plastic bags less than 0.025 millimeters thick. The Chinese government is also working toward the phaseout of single-use plastic to-go-boxes and shipping packages, Reuters reported.
“It’s the first time Beijing has recognized single-use plastics as a major problem and specified the urgent necessity to significantly reduce them,” Greenpeace said in a tweet.
According to the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data, “China produced the largest quantity of plastic, at nearly 60 million tonnes,” which is equal to 66 million U.S. tons. The United States followed at 38 million (42 U.S. tons) then Germany and Brazil.
“We are already unable to cope with the amount of plastic waste we generate, unless we rethink the way we manufacture, use and manage plastics,” the United Nations said. Ultimately, tackling one of the biggest environmental scourges of our time will require governments to regulate, businesses to innovate and individuals to act.”