China bans single-use plastic straws and shopping bags

    China is one of the world's biggest users of single-use plastic and in 2010, produced 60 million tonnes of plastic waste.

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    Image Credit: Fred Dufour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    China bid farewell to single-use plastic straws and shopping bags at the start of 2021 becoming one of 10 nations to outright ban plastic straws. The ban was part of the Party’s new Five-Year Plan to reduce plastic pollution.

    Phase one of the new Five-Year Plan is a ban plastic straws and plastic bags in major cities. While paper straws or polylactic acid straws have already replaced plastic ones in supermarkets, food stalls and coffee shops across China, several supermarkets have withdrawn plastic bags from cashier stalls and now offer customers the option to use recyclable bags at a premium. Single-use plastic bags will be banned in all cities and towns by 2022.

    While the cost of manufacturing degradable plastic products is much higher than single-use plastic, the demand for it continues to rise throughout China. Li Erqiao, general manager of a plastic products company in Yiwu, said that orders for degradable straws are sky rocketing in their factories.

    According to China Global Television Network (CGTN), Hua’an Securities predicted that by 2025, “the consumption demand of domestic degradable plastics is expected to reach 217 tonnes, with the market scale values 47.7 billion yuan ($7.3 billion).” And by 2030, “the demand is expected to reach 388 tonnes, with a market worth 85.5 billion yuan ($13.9 billion).”

    China is one of the world’s biggest users of single-use plastic and in 2010, produced 60 million tonnes of plastic waste with the U.S. close behind at 38 million tonnes, according to the University of Oxford.

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