Planet Earth Rejoice: China is Banning Single-Use Plastics Across the Country

Amidst a series of environmental reforms, China's latest move is exciting: cracking down on rampant plastic consumption across the country

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11:28 PM HKT, Tue January 21, 2020 1 mins read

China is one of the world’s biggest producers of waste. But on January 19, lawmakers from the National Development and Reform Commission revealed a new policy to reduce consumption of single-use plastics. For starters, non-biodegradable plastic bags will be banned across all major cities by the end of 2020, and disposable drinking straws will no longer be permitted in restaurants.

The news follows Shanghai’s equally-sweeping reform over trash sorting, which went into effect in July.


The July reforms required all Shanghai residents and corporate entities to classify their trash into four categories: wet, dry, recyclable, and toxic. The string of environmentally-conscious laws come as China looks to get serious about issues of pollution and waste.

China has for years struggled to deal with the waste its 1.4 billion citizens generate. The country’s largest dump site — the Jiangcungou landfill in Shaanxi Province — is already filled to capacity, 25 years ahead of schedule.

The nation’s restaurant industry might be hit hardest by the new legislation — on top of the ban on plastic straws, restaurants must trim down consumption of single-use plastic items by 30%.


China in recent years has seen many an initiative sprout in its alternative war on pollution. Championing bamboo as a green alternative, for example, the China-based International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) in July 2019 started promoting the giant grass as a tool for environmentally sustainable development globally.

Elsewhere, developments in carbon capture technology aim to turn CO2 emissions into valuable products.


China’s war on plastic is longstanding. The country banned retailers from handing out free plastic bags in 2008. In 2017, China – once the world’s largest importer of plastic waste – announced that it would ban the import of foreign plastic waste.

As trash stacks up, it appears there’s no time to waste.

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