The start of 2020 saw Thailand taking a major step in reducing the use of plastic by introducing a ban on single-use plastic bags in its major stores, with the country planning to completely get rid of them by 2021. China has become the latest country to take measures in the war against plastic, having announced a major planned phase-out of single-use materials.

Young man doing shopping at supermarket with reusable shopping bag
Single-use plastic bags are being phased out in China over the next few years © recep-bg

In a statement, China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said that the production, use and sale of a range of single-use plastic products will be phased out over the coming years. The policy outlines specific targets for areas around the vast country, with bigger cities being the first to crack down on single-use plastic products. More rural areas will be given more time to change. 

By the end of 2020, the use of single-use plastic bags will be prohibited in major cities, while smaller villages will have until 2022 or even 2025 (at markets that sell fresh fruit and vegetables) to completely eradicate them. The restaurant industry will also be banned from using non-degradable plastic straws by the end of this year.

Plastic Bag at Market
The plan focuses on different industries across the country © Satoshi-K

According to a study done by Columbia University and Zhejiang University in 2019, China is the world’s largest manufacturer of plastic products, accounting for more than 29% of the materials and products created. As outlined by Ocean Conservancy, each year, an estimated eight million metric tonnes of plastic rubbish is dumped in the ocean every year, with organisations all over the world working to try to cut down on the amount of waste generated. 

The plan also aims for a termination of the production and sale of products containing plastic microbeads by the end of 2020. The plan sets targets for businesses in the restaurant and catering industry, as well as hotels and shops.

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