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Momentum grows on China’s plastic bans
January 28, 2020
Bans on single-use plastic items are coming in around the globe as legislation catches up with consumer concern about plastic waste.
In the year ahead, Canada will ban a range of single-use plastic items, India has brought in regulations on the storage and distribution of plastic items, Europe will phase out problematic plastic items and China has placed bans on items like straws and cutlery.
Early last year China committed to a five-year plan to phase out a number of single-use plastic items around the country.
After the impacts of COVID-19 saw a slight delay in the rollout of a gradual phase out of these items, in late 2020 several provinces reconfirmed their commitment to the plastic bans, and momentum has now picked up again.
In the early stages of the five-year plan, China has initially introduced legislation banning all non-degradable single-use plastic straws.
Paper or PLA straws have been popular alternative options, however some brands have stopped offering a straw altogether.
This move alone is anticipated to remove 30,000 tons of plastic every year.
The ban itself is relevant to the restaurant industry specifically, with other industries, such as hotels, being impacted at a later stage in the five year plan.
Plastic bags also appeared in the early stages of China’s five-year plan to significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastics used in the country.
Disposable plastic bags (ie not recyclable) were banned from the start of this year.
The move has seen an increase in demand on paper, recyclable alternatives.
And it is not just changes in China which are impacting demand.
Around the world, plastic bag bans are forcing a move to more sustainable bag options.
Policies to phase out plastic bags have tripled in the last 10 years, with 127 nations now regulating against plastic bags.
Already major brands are reacting to the legislative changes.
For example, KFC China made an early move to adopt wooden cutlery and paper straws as plastic alternatives.
Pizza Hut has also been an early adopter of sustainable alternatives, committing to a total phase out of straws and offering paper or biodegradable bags only.
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