China bans plastic bags to fight “white pollution”

May 28, 2008 at 8:36 am Leave a comment

In response to Scientific American News – China Sacks Plastic Bags

The Chinese government is set to ban the manufacture and force shopkeepers to charge for the distribution of bags thinner than 0.025 millimeters thick as of June 1. People have been using plastic bags for everything — even to contain hot food for which plastic bags are not suitable. I’m glad to see that the Chinese government is taking the steps to recognize the importance of environmental issues such as this and educate its people. Everything China does will have a huge impact just because of the big population, so this is significant.

However, it remains to be seen whether this policy will hold up in the face of opposition. Manufacturers of the bags and citizens who are used to them already showed some displeasure. Also, people may end up putting more plastic in the landfill, because they just use the thicker plastic bags for convenience. This is what happened when a similar policy was adopted in Taiwan.

As I’ve written in Biodegradable Plastics, the idea of switching to biodegradable plastics may not be the best option because these polymers do not break down quickly as expected, because the conditions in the landfill is not ideal for degradation. I strongly recommend everyone, whereever you live, to reduce the use of plastic bags and get into the habit of bringing your own shopping bag.

Saving the Earth and fighting global warming is all about changing our lifestyle and everyday habits. We can do it!

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