Wednesday, January 30, 2008

China bans plastic bags

Good news from the Mongabay-Newsletter:

China bans plastic bags
January 13, 2008

In effort to stem plastic pollution, China has banned stores from using flimsy plastic bags and is mandating an additional charge if customers opt for a more durable plastic bag. Joining countries such as Ireland, Taiwan, and parts of South Africa, this new measure is aimed at encouraging the use of cloth bags and other reusable containers. Bangladesh has banned plastic shopping bags completely since 2002 when they were found to block drainage systems and cause flooding during monsoon rains. Australia is contemplating the move, as are cities such as London and Boston.

Shops in China started supplying customers with plastic bags around 15 years ago. In recent years, economic development has allowed large, Western-style chain stores to supplant traditional markets and eliminate the need for customers to supply their own bags. Since then, China's plastic bag consumption has rocketed to near three billion bags per day, choking rivers and urban centers with "white pollution". The ban is initiated as major pollution culls are taking place in Beijing in preparation for the Summer Olympic Games, primarily aimed dissipating smog and remodeling rundown neighborhoods.

In the US, more than 100 billion plastic bags are discarded annually. In 2007 San Francisco became the first US city to entirely outlaw the giveaway of plastic bags in supermarkets. New York City is considering legislation that would require large stores to recycle plastic bags.