In the wake of a nationwide ban on single-use plastics, fast food giant McDonald’s is one of the latest to discontinue distributing plastic straws in China.
From June 30, McDonald’s in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen will begin to phase out plastic straws for both dine-in and takeout, expanding to all stores in China by the end of 2020. The move is expected to reduce plastic waste by approximately 400 tons a year, according to Chinese language news outlet The Paper.
The move is in keeping with China’s national plan to phase out single-use plastics which came into effect in January of this year, in an effort to combat its growing domestic trash problem.
Among other things, the plan enforced a nationwide ban on plastic straws and disposable cutlery by the end of 2020, as well as a ban on plastic bags in major cities by the end of 2020, and nationwide by 2022. In addition, China’s restaurant industry is required to trim down consumption of all single-use plastic items by an additional 30% by the end of 2020.
Currently China is facing a staggering trash problem — its largest landfill in Shaanxi province, with a capacity of 34 million cubic meters, filled up 25 years earlier than expected. Plastic has increasingly played a role in global solid waste and chokes oceans and rivers as well as landfills, and China is the largest producer of it worldwide, at nearly 60 million tons a year.
Now that a nationwide ban is in effect — and being acted upon — we can only hope it is enough to reduce China’s contribution to trash build-up worldwide.
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