China Bans Plastic Bags
China’s surprise crackdown on plastic bags, announced on Tuesday, will prohibit the production and distribution of ultra-thin bags beginning June 1. The ruling bans the manufacture, sale, and use of plastic bags under 0.025 millimeters thick and prohibits supermarkets and shops nationwide from handing out the sacks for free. With the move, China joins a growing list of regions, from San Francisco to South Africa, that are using taxes, bans, and other regulations to try to decrease the prevalence of the ubiquitous bags.
Some 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags—including large trash bags, thick shopping bags, and thin grocery bags—were produced globally in 2002, according to the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2004 report. Roughly 80 percent of those bags were used in North America and Western Europe. Every year, Americans reportedly throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags, which can clog drains, crowd landfills, and leave an unsightly blot on the landscape.