Zhejiang steps up efforts to tackle plastic pollution

Zhejiang authorities are planning to prohibit or limit the usage of four kinds of plastics in the province, namely plastic shopping bags, disposable plastic tableware, plastic items in hotels, and plastic packaging used for delivery, according to a government conference on tackling plastic pollution held on Oct 12.

By estimates, plastic waste accounts for approximately 20 percent of the province’s household waste, and the aforementioned four plastics are major contributors to the problem. Our planet is drowning in plastic pollution, While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become addicted to single-use or disposable plastic — with severe environmental consequences. Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away.

Recently, the Zhejiang Provincial Development and Reform Commission and eight related provincial government departments jointly announced an action plan to strengthen the management of plastic pollution, which lays out a detailed timetable.

For example, plastic bags will be completely banned at department stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and exposition venues in urban areas of Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Shaoxing by the end of this year; the ban will be expanded to urban areas of all Zhejiang counties and cities by the end of 2022. By the end of 2023, the ban will expand to all peddlers’ markets in urban areas of all Zhejiang counties and cities.

Online shopping has become increasingly popular among Chinese consumers, particularly those in Zhejiang province, which is home to e-commerce giant Alibaba Group which located in China Hangzhou. As of the end of August, the provinc’s express delivery services had exceeded 10 billion parcels this year, up 29.9 percent from the previous year, accounting for 20.96 percent of the national aggregate. As a result, plastic pollution caused by delivery packaging has become a severe problem in the province.

Zhejiang authorities will require all postal offices in the province to stop using plastic tape by 2023.

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