China bans free plastic bags!

Today’s mindboggling statistic: Chinese people use up to 3 billion plastic bags a day,  at a cost of 5 million tons (37 million barrels) of crude oil a year for plastic packaging.   Knowing the costs of production and the harm plastic bags inflict on the environment, how can a plastic bag ever be called “free”?

According to the link above, starting on June 1, China will ban free plastic bags.  The thin, flimsy ones that are less than 0.025 mm thick will really get the axe, and  supermarkets and shops will no longer be allowed to give plastic bags out for free.

Some places, like the heavily-touristed town of Lijiang, had already taken matters into their own hands and banned plastic bags, so this is a surprising and welcome move.   Having seen firsthand the piles of trash and colorful plastic bags tumbling merrily along the roads in even remote parts of China, it’s a pretty bold move to stop the problem in its tracks before it gets even worse.

The biggest question is of course whether or not it will be enforced.    There is certainly a fair amount of awareness and growing disappointment about how China’s headlong flight into ecomomic superstardom is just so damn reckless in its disregard for people and the environment, but there still needs to be more education and a change in how people perceive their surroundings.

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3 Comments on "China bans free plastic bags!"

  1. nao
    17/01/2008 at 10:45 pm Permalink

    that is amazing! we should totally charge for bags. what a perfectly capitalist solution! you should see the plastic bag collection i’ve got accumulating in my apartment. i occasionally remember to bring a tote bag when shopping, but being charged would be a total incentive.

  2. fiona
    18/01/2008 at 12:32 am Permalink

    The only time I ever really used up all my plastic bags was when I had Neko! I always used them for her litterbox.

  3. Cindy
    20/01/2008 at 4:14 am Permalink

    I don’t think there’s recycling there in China yet? Here, in norcal at least, we have major plastic bag recycling just outside of most supermarkets and even some stores. Just about every store sells their own brand of tote bags for around $0.99 so one can easily purchase a tote right at the check-stand. At this grocery store named Trader Joe’s, whenever you bring your own bags for grocery, you get a raffle ticket for EACH bag and the store draws a winner every week for a $25 gift card. Nothing beats positive monetary incentive, and the store saves 5-10 cents per bag (depending on size) which easily adds up to hundreds of dollars in savings per week. Talk about Win-Win situation!

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