For many years China has struggled to deal with the amount of trash its 1.4 billion citizens produce. But last week, China announced how they plan to deal with this evergrowing problem.
They unveiled a plan to drastically reduce single-use plastics across the country.
Here’s a quick look at the country’s plan to reduce single-use plastics:
- By 2022 plastic bags will be banned across all cities and towns (markets selling fresh produce will be exempt until 2025).
- The production and sale of plastic bags that are less than 0.025mm thick will be completely banned.
- The restaurant industry must reduce the use of single-use plastic items by 30%.
- After 2025 hotels will no longer be able to offer free single-use plastic items.
According to Our World in Data-based at the University of Oxford, China produced 60 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2010, followed by the US at 38 million tonnes. In 2017 alone, China collected 215 million tonnes of urban household waste.
China recently became the world’s largest consumer market. For some time the country has been one of the largest user groups of plastic. So you can imagine their decision will impact the rest of the world.
What Does This Mean For The Future
If you’ll recall, in 2014 California became the first state to enact legislation imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail stores. Since then more than 400 laws and bans have been established to prevent the use of plastic bags.
If you think about it, we use single-use plastics daily. The bag you pack your lunch in, the wrap the deli uses for your sandwich, or the fork you used for your take-out. And let’s not forget about the plastic bag you used to carry your groceries in. But before you feel too guilty, realize that we all play a role.
A 2009 estimate said that 100 billion plastic bags are used each year in the United States. Worldwide that total is between 500 billion and 1.5 trillion.
In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a reduced number of plastic straws thanks to the heightened awareness. And with China joining the forefront of this conversation we can be certain it’s not going to quiet down (not that we had any doubt it would).
How Do We Change?
It’s clear to see this is a systemic problem that goes back a long way. But if we’re going to lessen the environmental impact of our consumption habits, then we need to change.
Here are a few simple ways you can modify your lifestyle to eliminate the need for single-use plastic products.
One of the easiest ways you can make sure less ends up in the landfill is to recycle. It takes anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years for plastics to decompose. If you’re not recycling already, find a neighborhood recycling program you can join to be sure your plastics (and other recyclable products) end up in the proper destination
2. Bring it with you
From reusable straws to reusable shopping totes, or our favorite, stainless steel water bottles, there are plenty of ways to reduce the need for single-use plastics.
3. Reward the faithful with your service
Last week I discovered my favorite restaurant recycles or decomposes all of its trash. The practice made me want to eat their more often. Look for restaurants and stores with responsible practices in place and reward them with your business.
4. Join the conversation
If 1.4 billion people have already committed to reducing or eliminating single-use plastics, then it’s time you and I join the conversation. Talk to your local and state legislators to understand what measures they’re taking to put these efforts into action.
5. Make the change personal
It started with one person...and before you know it an entire consumer group of 1.4 billion people joined. Look for ways in your own life where you can reduce or eliminate the need to plastics. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is when you commit yourself.