photo by Ethnocentrics via flickr
It may be have only been in place for a month so far, but initial reports by the Worldwatch Institute show that China’s ban on free plastic bags is having a definite impact.
In Guangzou City the use of plastic bags in supermarkets has been cut in half, while in some supermarkets in Beijing use of plastic bags has dropped by 90 percent.
Plastic Bag Ban Embraced
According to the Worldwatch Insitute:
Shoppers have embraced the ban without significant complaint, despite sacrificing some degree of shopping convenience. Older generations have reminiscently turned back to the woven baskets or plain cloth bags they used before plastic alternatives entered the Chinese market in the 1980s. Younger people are busy checking out online shops for more fashionable "eco-friendly" bags. Those who do pay for plastic bags are trying to buy as few as possible, foregoing the long-engrained perspective of "better more than fewer" prevalent before the ban.
Prior to the ban, Chinese consumers used up to 3 billion plastic bags per day, generating more the 3 million tons of nonbiodegradable waste annually. Annually China uses a third of its imported oil, 37 million barrels) to make plastics used in packaging.
US Should Follow China’s Example, At Least On This Issue
Being a resident of the United States, and of the city of New York, where bodega owners often reflexively put even the smallest thing into a paper and a plastic bag, I have to ask: When are we going to get our act together on this one and follow China’s lead? Encouraging the use of reusable bags is great—there are plenty of nice tote bags out there—but why not just go all the way and commit as a country?