China to ban plastic bags in 2022 & single-use plastic straws in restaurants by end-2020

Big step.

Ashley Tan| January 20, 06:38 PM

China has announced plans to ban single-use plastic it the coming five years.

Plastic bag ban

The country's National Development and Reform Commission announced on Jan. 19, 2020 the country-wide policy to gradually reduce usage and production of plastics, Bloomberg reported.

Alongside the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the NDRC said non-degradable plastic bags would be banned in major cities by end-2020, and all towns and cities in 2022.

This includes plastic bags given out at supermarkets, shopping malls and food delivery services.

It was not revealed which major cities the policy would be implemented in first.

The sale and production of plastic bags less than 0.025mm thick will also be phased out.

Markets selling fresh produce however, will be exempted from the ban till 2025.

Straws and packaging too

The policy does not only target plastic bags—disposable plastic cutlery and utensils from takeaway outlets and plastic courier packaging will also be phased out in the coming years.

Additionally, single-use straws will be banned from the restaurant industry by the end of this year, reported The Guardian. This is part of the move to reduce overall plastic use in the restaurant industry by 30 per cent in 2025.

Hotels are also required to stop handing out single-use plastic items in the same year.

Aside from bans, the country will also establish a proper system for the production, distribution, consumption, recycling and disposal of plastic items by 2025.

China previously imposed a ban in 2018 on the import of plastic waste from wealthier, developed countries to protect its environment and the safety of its people.

As one of the biggest market for recyclables, the move left many other countries fumbling with their trash, leading to a pile-up in other lesser developed nations such as Malaysia.

This recent move by China follows soon on the heels of Thailand, who started the new year with a plastic bag ban at major retailers like CP All (which owns 7-Eleven), Big C, Central Group and more.

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Top photo from Reuters