China Is the Latest Country to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags and Straws

It's part of the country's strict new environmental program

China plastic bags ban
A Chinese flag next to plastic waste washed ashore near Shanghai
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images
By Kirk Miller / January 21, 2020 10:46 am

The last country you might think of when it comes to environmentally-friendly policies is China, but that perception may change thanks to a recent ruling.

As part of a larger plan to reduce plastic pollution by 30% in five years, the country is about to ban all non-degradable plastic bags and single-use straws in major cities, according to the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. The ban also includes disposable foam and plastic tableware, along with non-degradable and disposable plastic used by the postal industry.

These plans were outlined recently by China’s National Development and Reform Commission and the Environment Ministry. Two years ago, the country banned imports of plastic and paper waste.

China’s ban follows news that the U.K. will ban plastic straws, drinks stirrers and plastic cotton swabs starting in April.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., only a few states (California, Hawaii and New York) have passed laws banning single-use plastic bags. According to an ABC News report, the average plastic bag is used for only 12 minutes, and shoppers use around 500 billion single-use bags every year.

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