Recently in China, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and other nine departments jointly issued the “Notice on Solidly Promoting Plastic Pollution Control”, proposing that from January 1, 2021, shopping malls, supermarkets, pharmacies, bookstores and other places, catering packaging and takeaway services, and various exhibition activities, it is prohibited to use non-degradable plastic shopping bags, but it is not forbidden to roll bags, fresh-keeping bags and garbage bags.
News from mee.gov.cn
At the same time, the production and sale of disposable plastic cotton swabs and disposable foamed plastic tableware will be banned nationwide from next year; non-degradable disposable plastic straws are prohibited in the national catering industry, but straws that come with food packagings such as milk and beverages are temporarily prohibited.
1: Notice issued by the nine departments: banning the use of non-degradable plastic bags from next year
According to the news on the website of the Development and Reform Commission on July 17, since the issuance of the “Opinions on Further Strengthening the Treatment of Plastic Pollution”, the retail and catering industries have attached great importance to and responded actively. From the height of ecological civilization construction, they understand and grasp the importance and grasp of plastic pollution control. Urgency, always put this work as an important agenda. Recently, the nine departments jointly issued the “Notice on Solidly Promoting Plastic Pollution Control”, redeploying and re-mobilizing related work, especially the target tasks at the end of 2020, and also clarified the detailed implementation standards of the work.
1. Which objectives and tasks proposed in the “Notice” are related to the retail and catering industries?
The “Notice” and detailed standards have pointed out the direction for industry enterprises to implement plastic pollution control requirements. Among the mission targets for plastic pollution control by the end of 2020, those related to the retail and catering industries are mainly the following categories:
One is non-degradable plastic bags. At the end of 2020, shopping malls, supermarkets, pharmacies, bookstores and other places in the built-up areas of municipalities, provincial capitals, and cities separately designated in the plan, as well as food and beverage take-out services and various exhibition activities, are prohibited from using disposable non-degradable plastic bags. The “Notice” clearly pointed out that non-degradable plastic bags refer to non-degradable plastic shopping bags used to hold and carry items in shopping malls, supermarkets, pharmacies, bookstores, etc., and do not include bulk fresh foods for hygiene and food safety purposes. Plastic pre-packed bags, roll bags, fresh-keeping bags, etc. for commodities such as, cooked food and pasta.
The second is disposable plastic straws. At the end of 2020, non-degradable disposable plastic straws will be banned in the catering industry nationwide. The “Notice” clarified that the prohibition does not include the plastic straws that come with the outer packaging of food such as milk and beverages.
The third is disposable plastic tableware. By the end of 2020, the use of non-degradable disposable plastic tableware for catering services in built-up areas and scenic spots in cities above the prefecture level is prohibited. The “Notice” clarifies the current prohibited categories of disposable non-degradable plastic tableware as disposable non-degradable plastic knives, forks, and spoons, excluding disposable plastic tableware used for pre-packaged food.
In addition, products such as ultra-thin plastic shopping bags, disposable foam tableware, disposable plastic cotton swabs, and daily chemical products containing plastic microbeads are also related to the daily operations of the retail and catering industries. The detailed standards in the “Notice” fully consider the actual situation of the industry and the production and supply situation, which not only increases the operability of the policy, but also ensures the steady progress of the policy. The retail and catering industries will actively promote implementation in accordance with relevant requirements.
2. What are the current alternatives for products that are restricted for use?
For the disposable plastic products that will be stopped in some areas and places before the end of 2020, industrial enterprises have begun to take positive actions and have formed a number of practical alternatives.
Disposable plastic shopping bags: With the improvement of public environmental awareness, many consumers have developed the habit of bringing their own shopping bags. The formation of the public’s green consumption habits plays an important role in reducing the use of plastic bags. Of course, there are many alternatives to plastic shopping bags. For example, many supermarkets can provide consumers with non-woven eco-friendly shopping bags. The design and production of exquisite eco-friendly shopping bags has even become a shopping fashion; paper shopping bags replace plastic shopping bags. This is also the practice of most companies; some bookstores have adopted simple kraft paper packages instead of shopping bags and have received good results. In addition, some supermarkets are also actively promoting the use of environmentally friendly biodegradable plastic shopping bags.
Disposable plastic straws: In order to reduce the use of disposable plastic straws, some catering companies have transformed the lids of cold drink cups and replaced the “sippers + cup lids” combination with cup lids with their own drinking spouts, which better replaced the drinking straws. . Alternative products such as biodegradable plastic straws are also actively being produced and applied, and related products are gradually mature, which can provide strong support for the replacement of disposable non-degradable plastic straws.
Disposable plastic tableware (knives, forks and spoons): In order to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic knives, forks and spoons, most qualified catering companies use reusable tableware in dinning. Some fast-food companies are using bamboo and wooden spoons instead of disposable plastic spoons, and they have also achieved good results. Tableware made of biodegradable plastic can also be used by consumers.
At the same time, according to statistical calculations, the annual consumption of the above-mentioned three types of plastic products in the retail and catering sectors involved in the phased targets at the end of 2020 is about 300,000 tons. The raw materials for alternatives such as non-woven fabrics, paper, bamboo and wood are sufficient. The annual supply of degradable plastics is about 400,000 tons. It should be said that the production capacity of alternative products can meet consumer demand. While relevant companies strive to provide consumers with high-quality alternative products, we also call on consumers to participate in the treatment of plastic pollution, reduce the use of disposable plastic products, and jointly practice a green lifestyle.
3. In order to implement various goals and tasks, what preparations have been made in the retail and catering industries?
At present, industries and enterprises have taken active actions to actively participate in plastic reduction work. The first is to carry out the publicity and implementation of policies and regulations related to plastic restriction. We have actively carried out policy publicity together with other relevant industry associations, and conveyed the policy to industrial enterprises in place. In the follow-up, retail, catering and other enterprises will also be organized to increase the intensity of publicizing the plastic restriction policy to consumers, promote good experience and practices, and jointly form a habit of plastic reduction. The second is to carry out supply and demand matchmaking activities. Organize the catering industry, retail industry and alternative product manufacturers to conduct docking, select qualified suppliers, put forward product procurement requirements, and promote enterprises to establish a green procurement system. The third is that we will jointly launch an initiative with relevant industry associations to encourage more companies in the trade and circulation service industry to fulfill their main responsibilities and consciously carry out plastic reduction actions.
4. What role can ordinary consumers play in response to plastic pollution?
The cessation of some disposable plastic products in retail and catering industries may have an impact on traditional consumption patterns. Ordinary consumers should also realize that traditional consumption methods have brought tremendous pressure to natural resources and the environment; changing unreasonable consumption methods, reducing plastic pollution, and reducing the impact on the ecological environment is not only the key content of ecological civilization construction, but also Every consumer’s social responsibility. Every ordinary consumer can use recyclable products in daily consumption, reduce the use of disposable plastic products, moderate consumption, and green consumption; only everyone is actively involved, starting from the small things around them, and gradually forming new habits of green consumption. In order to promote the plastic pollution control work to achieve better results.
2: The original intention of the plastic bag designer is to save the earth
As a new type of material, plastic products have the advantages of light weight, waterproof, durable, mature production technology, and low cost. They are widely used all over the world and are increasing year by year.
Plastic shopping bags have now become a symbol of environmental pollution, but back in 1959, the original intention of Swedish packaging designer Steen Gustaf Turin to design this one-piece polyethylene shopping bag was exactly the opposite. He is to save the planet by replacing the paper bags that consume a lot of resources with plastic bags that consume less resources. He believes that plastic bags should be reused instead of thrown away.
Steen Gustav Turing’s son Raoul Turing once said: “For my dad, the idea of people throwing away these plastic bags is very weird.”
It is reported that at that time, people used a lot of paper bags and needed to cut down many trees, which was very harmful to the earth. Steen had the idea that if he could make a bag that was both light and durable, people could use it repeatedly. This means that tree felling will be reduced, which is good for protecting the environment.
“Now we are encouraged to bring our own shopping bags to the store, and Steen did this in the 70s and 80s.
But the problem is that these bags are so convenient that they make humans lazy, and people throw them away after they use them-plastic bags are not disposable, but they are used as disposables.
Now the nine ministries stipulate that the use of non-degradable plastic bags will be prohibited from the end of this year. What do you think?