Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français

Reducing plastic waste is shared responsibility: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2018-05-29 21:30
Share - WeChat

Almost 10 years have passed since China implemented a nationwide ban on retailers distributing bags free of charge, and banned the production, sale and use of ultrathin non-biodegradable bags.

Unfortunately, however, the ban that came into effect on June 1, 2008, has failed to achieve its purpose of eliminating plastic bags thinner than 0.025 millimeters from the market, as such bags are still given away free to customers at roadside stalls and small shops.

Indeed, they are just part of China's plastic bag problem. Large supermarkets and department stores charge customers for thicker plastic bags, but the fee is just too low — at 0.2 yuan (3 US cents) or 0.3 yuan — to dissuade customers from using them.

Worse, the rapid development of online shopping and food delivery services means the country is under unprecedented pressure to deal with its mounting plastic waste.

In 2016 alone, the express delivery industry used 12 billion plastic bags — four times the number for 2008 - as well as 14.4 billion packaging boxes and 24.7 billion meters of adhesive tape.

For the country's environmental cleanup to succeed, it must reduce the huge amounts of plastic waste that are produced.

The National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner, recently promised to explore new ways to reduce the plastic waste that is fast piling up, especially the waste packaging generated by the rapid rise of online retail and takeout food. The lessons of the past need to be heeded for any new measures to be effective.

The ban on ultrathin plastic bags has been flouted mainly because of lax law enforcement, which has enabled their manufacturing and sale to continue unchecked. Also, many of the so-called biodegradable plastic bags are not really biodegradable. Even if they are, they cost two to three times as much as non-biodegradable bags, which deters cost-sensitive businesses from using them.

It is not only businesses that need to change their behavior, efforts must be made to raise consumers' awareness of the consequences of using plastic bags.

And it has been projected that by 2050 the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh all the fish. And it is worth bearing in mind that as it breaks up micro plastic particles can enter the food chain.

A healthy environment is the responsibility of everyone, not just the government and businesses.

Today's Top News

Editor's picks

Most Viewed

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349