Tuesday, January 15, 2008

China Bans Free Plastic Bags

Hi everyone! I have not blogged in a few years, but I hope you all find this article interesting.

In June this year, China will implement a ban on thin (less than 0.025 mm) plastic bags. This measure will reduce the amount of waste and resources used. They are allowing consumers to use “sturdy” plastic bags and cloth bags, and the citizens in China are happy to do so. Similarly, San Francisco has also banned petroleum-based plastic bags in grocery stores. About 5 other countries are making efforts to reduce the amount of plastic bags used.

Currently, the US throws out almost 100 billion plastic bags every year. Most of these bags probably go to landfills so a policy like this one would have huge effects for the US. China is making a great effort and the US should implement this kind of policy too. The policy sounds abrupt and forceful, but this is the kind of action the US government needs to take to make improvements and the US looks like it is already falling further behind.
Do you think this policy will work in the US too?


Jonathan Q. Weldon said...

Call me a cynic (I think Dr. Webber said that was a good thing?) but when I saw this article I couldn't help but wonder whether China was merely taking this step in preparation for the Beijing Olympics, i.e. clean up the streets for the world stage but the policy loses traction once the millions of eyes are no longer looking.

Here in Austin, Whole Foods has removed plastic bags as an option at checkout - if you purchase one of their reusable grocery bags you get a 10 cent discount each time you reuse it. Additionally at IKEA Round Rock, they charge you for each plastic bag you use (it is donated to an environmental cause) as a disincentive for using them. They also offer reusable bags for purchase.

During the first day Dr. Webber mentioned that we are often presented false choices when it comes to our energy. In a course related to Energy Policy, I find it interesting that the marketplace can also be the source of real choices.

Maverick said...

Until forced to, I think Americans will be slow to reduce bag use, even if stores start charging for them....a few coins aren't worth much these days, so most folks won't notice (nor mind) the piddly charge at the checkout stand. I say we take this bandaid off with a big yank. Make it hurt a little....maybe that's the jolt Americans need to realize that we ALL have to start taking action.

charlotte said...

I also heard about Whole Foods stopping the use of plastic bags, but it's only at their Austin location. It was stated that they did so because petroleum is used in the creation of plastic bags and Whole Foods was trying to promote some sort of independence from it. Although commendable, what I thought was interesting was rather than phasing them out until there were not any left at that location, they instead shipped them to other locations that were still using the bags. It's a good idea, but poorly executed.

greenbriar said...

Whole Foods stopping the use of plastic bags shows American is starting to take action of helping the environment. To answer the question if ban free plastic bag would work in the United States, I believe it would work. It will first create inconvenience to people but we will become accustomed to this policy in no time. Banning plastic bags is not only a good cause, but also an economic incentive for people to think green. If we look at the success with this policy in other countries, like the earlier post talks about Ireland’s plastic tax reduced the plastic bag consumption by 90%. Another example, countries like Singapore, Taiwan, and Bangladesh are taking steps to discourage plastic bags use. Taiwan imposed a plastic charge (around 4 Cents per plastic bag) and the use of plastic bag was dropped by 70%. The usage of plastic bag was 20 billion per year and with the tax it was cut down almost two- thirds. If we look at other countries’ experiences, the incentive of being green and also from an economic view can lead to a positive effect and help the environment.