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China to crack down on single-use plastic

By Philip Smith

The world's biggest user of plastic has a detailed five-year plan, with major cities targeted first

China is to reduce its plastic pollution, including phasing out single-use plastic, by 2025.

The country is one of the biggest users of plastics - producing more than 29 per cent of the world's output. The announcement from China’s National Development and Reform Commission will be seen as a major step towards tackling global pollution.

For years, China has been struggling to deal with the rubbish its 1.4bn citizens generate. Its largest dump, which was supposed to last for another 25 years, is already full.

Research published in 2018 by the University of Oxford shows that China produced 60m tonnes of plastic waste in 2010. The second-largest consumer, the US, got through 38m tonnes.

This programme aims to reduce that significantly. Non-biodegradable bags will be banned in major cities by the end of this year and in all cities and towns by 2022. Markets selling fresh produce, though, will be exempt until 2025. The production and sale of plastic bags that are less than 0.025mm thick will also be banned.

By the end of this year, the catering industry will stop using single-use plastic cutlery in major cities and non-degradable plastic straws will also be unavailable nationwide. By the end of 2025, no postal service nationwide will be allowed to use any plastic packaging.

China will instead promote the use of degradable or recycled plastic products and create comprehensive recycling programs.

This isn't China's first campaign against the use of plastics. In 2008, it banned the production of ultra-thin plastic bags and in 2017 said it would stop importing foreign plastic waste.

FURTHER READING: The war against plastic could be a boon for investors

FURTHER READING: Consumer brands struggling to eliminate plastic pollution

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