China reports 66-percent drop in plastic bag use.
A strict limit on ultra-thin plastic bags helped China avoid the use of some 40 billion bags over a one-year period, according to government estimates.
Plastic bags are commonly found in waterways, on beaches, and in other unofficial dumping sites across China. Litter caused by the notorious bags has been referred to as "white pollution."
The State Council, China's parliament, responded in January 2008 by prohibiting shops, supermarkets, and sales outlets from providing free plastic bags that are less than 0.025 millimeters thick.
In its first review of the ban, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced in June that supermarkets reduced plastic bag usage by 66 percent over the previous year. The limit in bag production saved China 1.6 million tons of petroleum, the NDRC estimated.
Prior to the ban, an estimated 3 billion plastic bags were used daily across China, creating more than 3 million tons of garbage each year. China consumed an estimated 37 million barrels of crude oil annually to produce plastics for packaging.
Yet compliance with the ban appears inconsistent. A survey by Beijing-based Global Village found that more than 80 percent of stores in rural China continued to provide free plastic bags.
by Ben Block
(unless otherwise credited)