China is Getting Serious About Plastic Waste

Over 3 million tonnes of domestic waste each year is comprised of shopping bags alone

0 0
6:07 PM HKT, Wed December 2, 2020 1 mins read

In a bid to encourage recycling and sustainability, restaurants, e-commerce platforms and delivery companies in China must now report their usage of disposable plastics to the government. Brands will also be required to submit formal recycling plans to authorities.


China’s Ministry of Commerce announced on November 30 that it would be establishing a nationwide system for businesses to report their plastic consumption. Plastic waste is a huge challenge for China, filling the country’s landfills at worrying rates. The rise of food delivery services, especially during the pandemic, has also seen an increase in plastic waste.

China is the world’s largest consumer of plastic. Its 1.4 billion citizens produced 63 million tonnes of plastic in 2019, but only recycled 30%. About 3 million tonnes each year is comprised of shopping bags alone, prompting the government to re-evaluate its use of plastics and introduce a number of stringent policies in its effort to cut down on waste.


In 2008, China banned the production of the ‘poorest quality bags handed out by supermarkets,’ requiring shoppers to either reuse bags or pay for them. And in August 2017, the government announced that it would stop importing 24 different types of solid waste from foreign countries, including plastic, paper, and textiles.

In January of this year, lawmakers from the National Development and Reform Commission pledged to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics. The new policies included banning non-biodegradable plastic bags by the end of 2020, and banning plastic drinking straws in all restaurants.


Cities, too, have been taking matters into their own hands, with Shanghai leading the way to implement radical new recycling laws in July 2019. The strict laws required residents to classify trash into four separate categories: wet, dry, recyclable, and toxic. The system operates on a ‘three-strike’ rule. If you’re caught throwing trash into the wrong bin, you have three chances to “repent” before being fined.

China’s war on plastics will take consumers some getting used to, but it’s a major changing current on the way to a more sustainable future.

Join the Conversation
Write comment

Pour yourself a stiff one, we'll be with you in a minute