China has officially banned plastic bags. Hooray! They will no longer produce plastic bags (for themselves) and stores are prohibited from handing them out, as of June 1, 2008.
China uses too many of the bags and fails to dispose of them properly, wasting valuable oil and littering the country, China’s cabinet, the State Council, said in a notice posted on the central government Web site (www.gov.cn).
Consumers are encouraged to use reusable bags and baskets for their purchases. China joins several other countries in banning the wasteful plastic bags.
Chinese people use up to 3 billion plastic bags a day and the country has to refine 5 million tons (37 million barrels) of crude oil every year to make plastics used for packaging, according to a report on the Web site of China Trade News (www.chinatradenews.com.cn).
I hope their ban on production includes producing plastic bags and packaging for the US. Americans use an estimated 84 billion plastic bags each year, which requires 12 million barrels of oil to produce.
Paper bags are no better, because “14 million trees were cut down in 1999 to produce 10 billion grocery bags for Americans. The production and shipping of the bags also contributes to global warming and air pollution.”
The solution is for Americans to go back to using cloth reusable bags. We’ve been using reusable bags for almost a year, and it’s easier because the bags are stronger so they hold more and you can get from the car to your house with confidence.
Problem: The city of Akron requires residents to separate their recyclables into blue and clear plastic bags, or paper bags. I called the city to explain, politely, that I no longer want to be a consumer of plastic bags, but I still want to recycle. They didn’t have an answer for that. (Even though the truck that collects the recyclables smashes everything together the same way the garbage truck does.) I hope the city will consider contracting with another recycling facility that doesn’t require plastic bags. Bath township doesn’t require the use of plastic bags, for example. Many cities want their residents to recycle, so they allow people to put all recyclables together in one container, and separate it at the facility. How can we convince people to stop consuming so much plastic, if the city requires it in order to recycle? I hope you will join with me to write letters to the city, elected officials, and the Akron Beacon-Journal to encourage the city to help residents to reduce our impact on the planet by refusing wasteful and energy-intensive plastic bags.
Long Live the Village Green also celebrated China’s plastic bag ban. Check it out.