China’s new plastic free policy.

  • Amy Broomhead
  • 20th January 2020

There is big news in the world of plastic today, as China announces that they will be banning single use plastic.

China is upping efforts to reduce and eventually eradicate the production, use and sale of single use plastic products, announced the China’s National Development and Reform Commission. This is in an attempt to phase out the amount of plastic rubbish produced by the 1.4 billion Chinese population.

Major cities will be the first to see the new policy in action, plastic bags will be completely banned by the end of this year. This will be followed by cities and towns who will have to eradicate plastic bags by the end of 2022.

Restaurants will also have to remove all plastic straws nationwide by the end of 2020 and must reduce other throw away plastics such as plastic cutlery by 30%. However, hotels have until by the end of 2025 to remove single use plastics such as complementary toiletries. Fresh food markets are also exempt from this plastic ban until 2025.

This is not the first attempt China has taken to reduce plastic use, in 2008 China banned giving away plastic bags for free in supermarkets and the production of thin single use plastic bags.

Another big step for China in this new plastic free policy is that they will no longer be accepting plastic waste imports from other countries. Once of the biggest importers of plastic, either to recycle into new plastic products, or richer countries would pay to send their plastic to China for landfill. This is an important move as it means that other countries cannot rely on China to landfill their excess plastic rubbish and will have to improve their own recycling infrastructure. China is not the only country putting their foot down about the import of plastic rubbish from wealthier countries. The Malaysian government has sent back 150 shipping containers of illegally imported rubbish back their country of origin, with plans to send back even more.

Thailand also announced this year that single use plastic bags will be banned across the country in 2021, starting with a ban in major stores this year. Indonesian capital Jakarta will follow neighbouring island Bali’s approach to plastic and will ban plastic bags in supermarkets, retail stores and fresh food markets. 

This is amazing news for the world of single use plastic. If the world’s largest plastic producer is taking a stand and reducing and ultimately eliminating single use plastic use within the next 5 years, other more developed countries should take note and follow suit. Taking extreme no tolerance measures is the only way that a difference will be made.