China gets tough on firms over single-use plastics


China is forcing restaurants, e-commerce platforms and delivery services to report their use of single-use plastics.

The Ministry of Commerce said it had established a nationwide system for retailers to report their plastic consumption.

The Ministry’s proposal is part of a wider push to deal with China’s huge waste problem.

The rise in home food deliveries has also caused volumes to surge.

In September, the ministry said single-use plastic bags and eating utensils would be banned from major cities by the end of the year, while single-use straws would be banned nationwide.

A new “solid waste law” also came into effect in September, increasing fines tenfold for those who break rules.

The new law also mandated the construction of new recycling infrastructure.

Plastic pollution
Wang Wang, chairman of the China Scrap Plastic Association, told Reuters the bans would “only resolve the most visible types of plastic pollution”.

He said they were just one part of the country’s efforts to tackle waste.

In January, China’s National Development and Reform Commission issued a five-year roadmap to reducing waste.

The policy called for a nationwide ban on plastic bags by 2022, as well as a 30% reduction in the use of single-use plastic items by restaurants.

Hotels were told that they must not offer free single-use plastic items by 2025.

Massive waste problem
China has for years struggled to deal with the waste its 1.4 billion residents generate.

In fact China’s largest rubbish dump – which is the size of 100 football fields – was full 25 years ahead of schedule.

The country is the world’s single biggest producer of plastic waste, although it throws away far less on a per person basis than most western countries.

The China National Resources Recycling Association said the country produced 63 million tonnes of plastic in 2019, with a recycling rate of around 30%.

The rest ended up in landfills or was burnt or abandoned.

The country produces around 20 million tonnes of single-use non-biodegradable material annually, including 3 million tonnes of shopping bags.