China, largest plastic polluter in world, to ban straws & plastic bags by 2025

Big steps.

Ashley Tan | September 15, 2020, 04:57 PM

China, the most populated country, and also the largest plastic polluter in the world, will be making massive strides to green its economy.

At the beginning of 2020, its announced an ambitious five-year plan to significantly reduce the production and usage of single-use disposable plastic.

As part of this plan, non-biodegradable plastic bags will be phased out in major cities by the end of this year, and subsequently in all towns and cities in 2022.

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

The ban will eventually be implemented nationwide by 2025.

China also aims to reduce plastic use in restaurants by 30 per cent by 2025.

Eliminating various types of plastic

Not only will plastic bags be eliminated, but production and sale of disposable foamed plastic tableware, straws and plastic cotton buds will be stopped too.

According to Xinhua Net, non-degradable single-use plastic straws will be banned by the end of 2020, while non-degradable single-use plastic tableware will be banned from dining-in in cities.

By the end of 2022, the ban on plastic tableware will be extended to dining-in in counties.

The production of daily chemicals containing plastic microbeads will be stopped by 2020, while sales of such products will stop by 2022.

Additionally, hotels must stop handing out free disposable plastic products, while couriers are instructed to stop using non-biodegradable plastic packaging by 2025, reported South China Morning Post.

In the meantime, China will be encouraging the use of alternative non-plastic products.

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

Produces the most plastic waste

Currently, China produces the largest amount of plastic waste in the world.

In 2018, the country produced 8.8 million tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste (plastic waste that is littered or inadequately disposed of) annually.

This is nearly three times the amount produced by the world's second largest plastic polluter, Indonesia.

Of this 8.8 million tonnes, 3.53 million ends up in the marine environment.

Photo from Statista

The country first started taking steps to reduce its waste production two years ago.

In 2018, China announced that it would stop importing waste from other countries, a shocking move which left prominent waste exporters like the U.S., UK, Japan and Germany reeling.

Prior to this, China has been importing nearly two-thirds of the world's waste to process them. However, the domestic recycling industry led to hazardous conditions for locals and environmental damage.

The subsequent ban of waste imports led to devastating knock-on impacts for exporters, with much of the waste being rerouted to Malaysia instead.

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Top photo from Jie Zhao / Corbis via Getty Images