China’s top economic planner said it would cut the production and use of plastic over the next five years, helping reduce one of the world’s biggest sources of plastic pollution.
By the end of this year, non-degradable plastic bags will be banned in places such as supermarkets and shopping malls in major cities, as well as in the country’s ubiquitous food delivery services, according to a plan released by the National Development and Reform Commission on Sunday.
China will significantly reduce the use of disposable plastic in e-commerce, express deliveries and takeaway food by 2022, while promoting alternative materials, the NDRC said. The nation will also establish a system for producing, distributing, consuming, recycling and disposing of plastic products by 2025.
The use of plastic in the world’s most populous nation has risen as online shopping and food delivery apps have become part of everyday life, even in rural areas. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which organizes a 24-hour shopping marathon every year, has been criticized for shipping 1 billion packages in a single day.
The ease with which food can be ordered online, often with waiting times of only 10 to 15 minutes, means an increase in plastic bags, containers, and utensils that are then discarded.
China has taken steps to address the deluge of plastic, including introducing a mandatory recycling system that’s being piloted in cities such as Shanghai. The country will also completely ban the import of plastic waste, the NDRC said on Sunday, without giving a deadline.
The Asian nation will ban non-degradable, single-use plastic straws nationwide by 2020, it said, with the goal of reducing the “intensity of consumption” of such plastic utensils by takeout services in urban areas by 30% by 2025.
By 2022, some delivery services in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai will be forbidden from using non-degradable packaging, with the ban extended to the whole country by 2025.