While several countries, including the United States, are looking at banning those really thin plastic shopping bags, China has already gotten rid of more than 40 billion plastic bags. This has actually saved the country more than 1.6 million tons of petroleum! All in all, China has reduced its plastic bag usage by almost 66 percent.
While China’s government has passed some controversial laws on human rights, the country has been seen as a leader in ecological and environmental practices. In fact, their bag law is often hailed as one of the best examples of ways governments can help implement environmentally friendly policies.
While some have been skeptical of China’s bag ban, studies show it is working. However, while more than 80 percent of all Chinese citizens support the ban, surveys also show that more than 80 percent of stores in the rural areas of China are completely ignoring this law. How long such an act will last is uncertain, but it appears some stores simply aren’t willing to change their old habits. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce has been sending out regulators to inspect stores, however, and they’ve been imposing very steep fines.
One of the reasons going plastic bag-less has really caught on in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing is that tote bag makers are marketing to the hip youngsters. They’re making tote bags in a number of different styles, colors, and designs. These tote bags have become quite the fashion statement, especially among the younger generations.
The United Nations has picked up on this movement, and the chief of the U.N. Environmental Program has actually called for countries to enact a global ban on the production of plastic bags. Following in a somewhat similar vein, several cities in the US have adapted a bag tax or even a bag ban, although some cities have since relented on their anti-plastic plans. Ireland has taxed plastic bags since 2002.