Make packaging rule bite

Several takeaway platforms in Shanghai recently have begun to use paper bowls instead of plastic packaging when delivering foods.

Several takeaway platforms in Shanghai recently have begun to use paper bowls instead of plastic packaging when delivering foods.

Unfortunately, it is yet a non-binding packaging standards drawn up by Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau and some platforms (“Officials mull rules for packaging to reduce plastic,” July 10, Shanghai Daily). For instance, I ordered a meal online over the weekend through one of the platforms in anticipation of change, and was disappointed. The very modest lunch was placed in seven plastic containers, plus a plastic bag. Still, even if the rule manages to make a small dent in the near future, it might help us in our fight against the rising pile of plastics. As observed in a recent issue of National Geographic, virtually half of the plastic ever manufactured has been made in the past 15 years, and over 8 million tons of plastic waste is dumped into our oceans every year.

There, plastic waste breaks down into microplastics, tiny bits smaller than 5mm across, and referred to as “PM 2.5 in oceans” by scientists. Microplastics are found everywhere and are killing millions of marine animals every year. Ever since the production of plastic took off in the 1950s, Westerners have been indulging themselves in the convenience of disposables. This culture of convenience was then avidly embraced, and now we are all in dire need of a desperate solution to the omnipresence of plastics.

The new packaging standards are inspiring if toothless, and to lead to real change, legally-binding regulations are needed, whereby takeaway platforms’ responsibilities should extend to recycling and waste disposal.


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