China says it will ban plastics that pollute its land and water

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BEIJING – Accumulates in landfills. It crowds fields and rivers, hangs from trees and forms flotillas of debris in the seas. The use of plastic bags, containers and cutlery by China has become one of the most stubborn and ugly environmental blight.

Therefore, the Chinese government has introduced measures to drastically reduce the amount of disposable plastic items that often become a danger and an eyesore in the country, including in the countryside and in the oceans.

Among the new guidelines are the import bans on plastic waste and the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags in the main cities by the end of this year. Other sources of plastic garbage will be banned in Beijing, Shanghai and the wealthy coastal provinces by the end of 2022, and that rule will be extended throughout the country by the end of 2025.

Previous efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags have failed in China, but the government has indicated that, this time, it will be more serious and systematic to address the problem.

China's package delivery sector will have more time to adapt. By the end of 2022, the couriers of Beijing, Shanghai and the rich coastal provinces should stop using non-biodegradable plastic containers, tapes and sacks of single-use plastic fabrics. At the end of 2025, that ban will be extended throughout the country.

The effects of the policy may not be visible immediately, said William Liu, senior consultant in Shanghai at Wood Mackenzie, who advises companies on chemicals, energy and related sectors.

"But in the future," he said in an email, "as the ban extends to more cities and substitute materials gain strength, China's polyethylene consumption will be affected."

A considerable obstacle, given the size of China's consumer market, the ubiquity of the plastic and the amount that is finally thrown away, are the plastic foam containers that most restaurants use for take-out food orders and that rarely They are reused.

Orders sold online through Alibaba, JD.com, Meituan and other Chinese e-commerce points often arrive wrapped in multiple layers of plastic, which apparently reflects the fear of sellers that customers reject dented deliveries or dirty. Chinese courier services used almost 25 billion plastic bags for deliveries in 2018, according to an industry estimate. quoted by Workers & # 39; Daily and other Chinese news media.

"The levels of environmental protection and recycling will really improve only if the entire supply chain continues," said Zheng Yixing, founder of Heli Environmental Technology Company in Beijing, which promotes commercial recycling.

The government said it would consider including companies on the blacklist They make fun of plastic bans. The cooperation of large online retail companies will be crucial, said Tang, the plastics activist.