China restricts use of plastic bags

June 1st, 2008 - 9:20 pm ICT by admin  

Beijing, June 1 (Xinhua) Wang Yali is busy packing her groceries at a supermarket as usual. However, she doesn’t put her goods into plastic shopping bags, but stuffs them all into her own bag. From Sunday, Chinese retailers, including supermarkets, department stores and grocery stores, would no longer provide free plastic shopping bags.

China will try to reduce the use of plastic bags which will save energy and control pollution.

“It doesn’t matter how much a plastic shopping bag costs. What matters is our sense for environmental protection,” Wang said.

“Customers are encouraged to carry their own bags,” Men Xiaowei, an official with the Ministry of Commerce, said in an online interview.

“It is a ‘habit revolution’. To limit the use of plastic bags is to protect our environment.”

Chinese have enjoyed free plastic shopping bags for more than a decade. Those shopping bags used to bring lots of conveniences to Chinese shoppers. However, they also caused heavy burden to the environment.

According to an estimate by the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner, every two people would consume at least one plastic bag a day.

At least 1,300 tonnes of oil is consumed every day to produce plastic shopping bags for supermarkets alone.

China has also banned ultra-thin plastic bags, which are thinner than 0.025 millimetres.

“Plastic bags are difficult to be degraded,” Men said. “The plastic waste accounted for more than three to five percent of the daily waste, most of which came from plastic bags.”

Retailers have now started charging for plastic bags, ranging from 0.2 yuan to more than 10 yuan (about $1.4) depending on their sizes.

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