SEVEN YEARS AFTER China introduced a bill forbidding supermarkets and shopping malls to offer consumers non-biodegradable plastic bags for free, Chinese shoppers reportedly still consume a great number of them every
Many Chinese shoppers might have forgotten the regulation restricting the use of non-degradable bags introduced seven years ago. Low quality non-biodegradable plastic bags, for example, are always available at small grocery vendors for free, due to the lack of coordinated enforcement of the ban on their use.
And those available for a small charge in supermarkets and shopping malls are also popular among customers, most of whom are willing to pay for 0.2 yuan (3 cents) for such a bag.
Of the total global consumption of plastic resources (at least 400 million tons every year), including non-biodegradable bags, China accounts for over 60 million tons. That requires the Chinese authorities take a zero-tolerance approach toward all plastic bags, no matter whether they are offered for free or not.
In other words, production and circulation of non-biodegradable bags and utensils, should be strictly banned and replaced with biodegradable ones, which normally cost more.
This is perfectly feasible. Northeast China's Jilin province's attempts to promote such a ban seem to be working, for instance.
Local governments should also subsidize enterprises that produce biodegradable bags to lower their price. But, more importantly, since shoppers can bring their own reusable bags for shopping, they are obliged to enhance their enforcement of the ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags.
(China Daily USA 02/17/2016 page11)