Plastic Pollution
January 10 2008

China Bans Plastic Bags

by Elizabeth

Chinese authorities on Tuesday said they're outlawing the plastic shopping bag because of pollution and energy concerns.

China's State Council said the ban will start June 1. Firms that continue to sell, make and distribute bags thicker than 0.025 mm thick will be given fines and authorities may seize goods and profits, the State Council said.

"Our country consumes huge amounts of plastic bags every year. While providing convenience to consumers, they have also caused serious pollution, and waste of energy and resources, because of excessive use and inadequate recycling," the government said in a statement, according to Reuters.

"We should encourage people to return to carrying cloth bags, using baskets for their vegetables."

According to Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research group, plastic bags dissolve over 1,000 years. The group also estimates consumers worldwide toss about 500 billion plastic bags annually.

In March 2007, San Francisco became the first North American city to ban non-recyclable plastic bags made from petroleum products.

Later in April, the Manitoba town of Leaf Rapids became the first Canadian municipality to prohibit plastic sacks.

Other regions in South Africa, Ireland and Taiwan have placed additional fees and taxes on the bags to discourage use.