Due to China’s large population, plastic bags had been widely used among people in their everyday lives, an estimation of 3 billion bags daily. In 2008, China banned the commonly used thin plastic bags (under 0.025 millimeters thick) and required extra charge for the thicker bags. These plastic bags contributed to large amount of pollution on beaches, waterways, and other locations. Not only did this create pollution, energy and resources were also wasted in creating and using these plastic bags.
The plastic bag ban in China has definitely seen the positive outcomes. Following the ban, the NDRC reported a 66% decrease or two thirds in plastic bags. Thus allowing China to save 1.6 millions tons in petroleum. Before the ban, China used about 6 million tonnes of oil to create the bags. The ban has also allowed businesses to prosper in creating green plastic bags and more money with the extra charge for the bags. China hopes to replace plastic bags with customer’s own reusable bags and ultimately use biodegradable bags.
Despite the ban, many businesses continue to use plastic bags. Stores or markets found using plastic bags are subject to be fined, however smaller businesses continue to use plastic bags. The ban is clearly not enforced enough that would allow businesses to go plastic-free. Routinely or surprise check-ups on such businesses would force owners from using plastic bags at the risk of their business.
Although the plastic bag ban has definitely helped decrease the amount of plastic used and produced in China, some plastic bags are still being sold. There is still a long way to go when other countries continue the use of the plastic bag completely. Here in Chicago, a tax requires customers to pay extra for each plastic bag. Although this is helpful, it only slightly helps reducing the use of plastic bags when they are still being produced and sold. There is a clear difference between a tax and a ban. Following China’s (and other countries that have also banned the bags) would allow us to reduce the amount of plastic used and polluted worldwide.