Bag ban heralded as green success | Shanghai Daily

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Bag ban heralded as green success

GAO Jie has collected a dozen non-woven fabric bags over the past year, since China banned free plastic bags being given out by retailers on June 1, 2008.

Gao said she used to take it for granted when supermarkets offered free plastic bags. She never felt the urge to avoid using plastic bags although she was aware of the ìwhite? pollution they caused.

Yet, nearly a year after the government ban, she has developed a new habit of taking a fabric bag with her when going out shopping.

Gao is among millions of Chinese who have switched from plastic bags to fabric or other reusable bags, after the regulation meant they had to pay for plastic bags at supermarkets, department stores and grocery stores.

As a result, nationwide use and disposal of plastic bags had been reduced massively.

The use of plastic bags at supermarkets was down by an average 66 percent since before the ban, according to a survey released on Wednesday by the China Chain Store and Franchise Association.

That means almost 40 billion fewer plastic bags were used in the past year, the survey showed.

At a Wal-Mart store in Xuan≠wu District in Beijing, Wu Dan, who has worked there as a cashier for two years, said before the ban she used to give out 200 plastic bags during an eight-hour shift.

She said many customers demanded to put foodstuff and daily necessities in separate bags when they were getting free plastic bags.

But now, she only sold less than 50 plastic bags during her shift.

China has developed into a big consumer society since plastic bags became available in the country in the 1990s. Before the ban, at least 1,300 tons of oil were consumed every day to produce shopping bags for supermarkets alone.

By launching the campaign against the wide use of plastic bags, the Chinese government said it was aiming to protect the environment and conserve energy.

Frances Fremont-Smith, China president of Future Generations, a worldwide organization that promotes sustainable livelihoods, said the ban was ìof great value.?

Her organization gave away 20,000 reusable fabric bags in Chinese cities last year.





 

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