It’s been 48 years since the first Earth Day, celebrated on every April 22. The focus of the day this year is on fundamentally changing human attitudes and behavior regarding plastics and catalyzing a significant reduction in plastic pollution.
China is among countries around the world that have shown great efforts in combating plastic pollution.
China’s plastic bag ban
The Chinese government introduced rules banning supermarkets and shops from handing out free plastic bags to customers on June 1, 2008, to reduce energy consumption and protect the environment. It also prohibited the production and sale of bags thinner than 0.025 mm.
China introduced rules banning supermarkets and shops from handing out free plastic bags to customers on June 1, 2008.
These measures were considered a major environmental breakthrough for China, which generates 1.6 million tons of plastic bags for commercial use every year.
Seven years later in 2015, the volume of plastic bags used by supermarkets and shopping malls had decreased by two-thirds, according to data released in 2016 by the Department of Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection. About 1.4 million tons of plastic bags were saved over this period, an equivalent of 8.4 million tons of oil.
Import ban on 24 types of solid waste
Last July, China announced an import ban on 24 types of solid waste by the end of 2017 in a fresh move to reduce environmental pollution.
China announced import ban on 24 types of solid waste by the end of 2017 in a fresh move to reduce environmental pollution on July 20, 2017.
The country notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the ban, which covers waste plastics, unsorted scrap paper, discarded textiles, vanadium slag and other kinds of waste, Ministry of Environmental Protection official Guo Jing told a press conference.
Imported solid waste, some of which had been used as raw materials in the past, has caused damage to the country's environment and public health, said Guo, who is in charge of the ministry's international cooperation program.
The Chinese government is stepping up the fight against pollution and environmental degradation as decades of fast growth has left the country saddled with smog and contaminated soil.