Asian countries are resisting the plastic flood: According to their own statements, Malaysia has sent 4,000 tons of plastic waste back to wealthy countries in recent months. According to the Ministry of the Environment, 43 containers were returned to France, 42 to the UK, 17 to the USA, 11 to Canada, 10 to Spain and the rest to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Portugal, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Lithuania. Another 110 containers would be returned by the middle of the year, said Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Ying.
China had already announced in 2018 that it would no longer import plastic waste. Since then, unwanted garbage has often been diverted to Southeast Asia, against which Malaysia and other emerging countries are resisting. In China, an order that has now been published has confirmed the existing import ban on plastic waste.
However, the plan continues. China will in future ban plastic bags in supermarkets and the use of single-use plastic products in hotels and restaurants. The State Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced a gradual, "ambitious plan" to reduce plastic waste over the next five years. Accordingly, plastic bags may no longer be released in supermarkets and other stores in large cities from the end of this year. Instead, only bags made of fabric, paper or other degradable materials should be used. Food packaging should also consist of materials that naturally decompose.
In major cities in China, catering will no longer be able to hand out plastic cutlery from the end of the year - in smaller cities the prohibitions will apply from the end of 2022. From then on, hotels that have been awarded stars will not be able to offer their guests products such as toothbrushes or combs then have to be sold through vending machines. At the end of this year, plastic straws will also be banned nationwide.
China is the largest manufacturer of plastic and accounts for around a third of global production. Plastic often ends up in the landscape or in the sea. There are three garbage strudel in the Pacific and Indian Ocean alone. Attempts are now being made to collect the garbage on the high seas.
With the plan, the Chinese government hopes to "effectively control plastic pollution" by 2025 and "significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste in the dumps of major cities," the reform commission's instructions say.
Parcel services must not use plastic
Parcel services in large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or in economically booming provinces such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian or Guangdong will no longer be able to use plastic bags as packaging from the end of 2022. Courier services are also prohibited from using woven plastic bags. At the end of 2025, the ban should apply nationwide, according to the instructions of the highest economic governing body. The production and use of particularly thin plastic bags or such films for agriculture are also prohibited.
The EU decided in 2018 to ban single-use plastic such as drinking straws or cutlery from 2021 if there were alternatives.