China reveals plan to cut plastic use by 2025
China on Sunday released an ambitious plan to ban or significantly reduce the production and use of environmentally-unfriendly plastic products in the next five years to contain pollution.
The country will gradually ban or restrict the production, sales and use of certain plastics while promoting their degradable, recycle-friendly alternatives, according to a document issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
By 2025, China expects to effectively control plastic pollution, substantially reduce the amount of plastic waste in landfills of key cities, establish a complete plastics management system and make progress in the development of alternative products, said the document.
The production and sales of single-use foam plastic tableware and plastic swabs will be banned by the end of 2020. For daily chemicals containing plastic microbeads, production will be banned by 2020 while sales will stop by 2022.
The document also reiterated prohibitions on the production and use of thin plastic bags and polyethylene agricultural films, as well as on the production of plastic products with medical waste and imports of plastic waste.
The document has set step-by-step timelines for the next five years to reduce the use of single-use, non-degradable plastics and parcel packaging.
For instance, non-degradable single-use plastic straws will be banned by the end of 2020, while non-degradable single-use plastic tableware will be banned from dining-in in cities. By the end of 2022, the ban on plastic tableware will be extended to dining-in in counties.
By the end of 2025, the use of non-degradable single-use plastic tableware for take-out in cities should be cut by 30 percent, according to the document.
Moreover, all hotels and guesthouses should stop using single-use plastic wares by 2025, while postal and express service outlets should cease using non-degradable plastic packaging, plastic tape and single-use plastic woven bags.
In the meantime, China will encourage the use of alternative materials such as non-plastic products and degradable shopping bags and urge efforts in the recycling and disposal of plastic wastes, the document said.
Meng Wei, a spokesperson with the NDRC, told a press conference that the Chinese authorities will increase support from policymaking and scientific research while strengthening supervision and law enforcement in this regard.
Major issues in plastic pollution control will be overseen by the central environment inspectors to improve assessment and accountability practices, said Meng.